The First Words

  Heaney offers a version of a Sorescu poem printed in ‘The Biggest Egg in the World’ (Bloodaxe 1987). Sorescu, a Romanian from a humble farming background like Heaney’s, comments in his own particular way on the trying political circumstances of his life. He is using his own ‘spirit level’ to judge a totalitarian state. The first words got polluted (Heaney ‘s preference for ‘got’ over, say, ‘were’ has something blunt and uncompromising about it). The river is a metaphor for contamination: Like river water in the morning / Flowing with ( ) dirt. Sorescu is sour: the pollutants are Communist propaganda-tools and a state-controlled press (blurbs and ( ) front pages) used to repress the individual. Sorescu rejects these […]