The Summer of Lost Rachel

Heaney responds to the tragic loss of his niece, Rachel, elegising her in the eternal present of his poem. Rachel was the daughter of his brother Hugh who continued to live on the Heaney family property at The Wood. The abundant rain that irrigates the mid-Ulster landscape plays a role in a disastrous accident; the child who was lost is retrieved in the poetic imagination as a water nymph gracing the local landscape. Heaney sets out the prequel to catastrophe:  annual signs of seasonal growth around Rachel’s Bellaghy home (your back door) – crops, like Rachel, not yet mature but well on the way (potato … flowering … hard green plums on damson trees) – the fruitfulness of blackberry or […]