The Spoonbait

As part of what Heaney called a ‘surfeit’ of Catholic training as a youngster the Catechism sought to teach him that the human soul is immortal. Though he is lapsed Heaney’s faith still resonates, sometimes testingly. His metaphysical parable asks whether the immortality of the soul is dependent on faith. Using an extended fishing metaphor Heaney resists the temptation to re-engage. Grappling with his faith brings the need for fresh comparison (a new similitude is given us). Heaney couches his attempt to find a tangible material equivalent of a metaphysical notion (soul) in archaic Old Testament language (compared unto) building the narrative round something he caught unexpected sight of as a school-age youngster: a fishing accessory (spoonbait) that a classmate […]