An Invocation

The poem appeared in the London Review of Books on August 6 1992. Heaney invokes hard-line Scottish poet and communist Hugh MacDiarmid; he recognises a kindred conscience (with the difference that MacDiarmid reacted much more radically in his own Scottish nationalist way against the perceived injustices of government from Whitehall). The three pieces are written in memoriam. Heaney seeks a gesture of recognition (Incline to me, MacDiarmid, out of Shetland) acknowledging that due regard might be hard come by from a Scot as uncompromising as the landscape around him (Stone-eyed from stone-gazing), a boozer (sobered up), a man of natural ill-temper (thrawn). Heaney is not seeking the approval of the sociable character who judged, joked and teased: the old vigilante/ […]