The Flight Path

Heaney’s title opens multiple lines of enquiry: the planned course of an aircraft acts as a metaphor for the journey linking his early life with academic positions that took him to and from the USA, with his exodus from Ulster to the Irish Republic in 1972, with an unpleasant confrontation involving a nationalist figure in 1979 and an equally disagreeable happening with the Unionist protestant forces of order during the Troubles. The title suggests movement in space, movement in time, guided movement, movement determined by outside forces. The metaphorical implications of ‘taking flight’ are also represented, not least the spiritual uplift expressed in the final line. The six-poem sequence is dedicated to Donald Davie, fellow poet and critic who died […]