The Butter-Print

 Prompted by the sight of an old-fashioned farmhouse utensil used to decorate pats of butter Heaney revisits the lost domain of childhood . The Heaney family produced its own butter on the family farm (see ‘Churning Day’ from Death of a Naturalist, Heaney’s first collection of 1966). Heaney shakes his head at the woodworker who carved the print’s circular, sunny disposition (round open face) with a barbed design (cross-hatched head of rye, all jags and bristles) emblazoning the tasty substance (soft butter) with a skin tearing image (sharp device) recalling the damage incurred by a saintly figure (breast … scored with slivered glass). The poet reveals that his personal reaction stemmed from a childhood crisis (I swallowed an awn of […]