The Poplar

  This short piece goes to the heart of matters of alignment as per The Spirit Level: as a close observer of the strength of nature Heaney is quick to perceive changes that find an echo in human affairs, themselves reshaped by powerful forces. A gust of wind exposes the much lighter shaded underside of the poplar tree’s leaves, suddenly changing the landscape: Wind shakes the big poplar, quicksilvering / The whole tree in a single sweep. The poet’s sensitivity as regards shifting ground and equilibrium, his natural caution about hopeful contemporary political developments lead to questions: when things are finely balanced which way will they tip: What bright scale fell and left this needle quivering? How much negative weight (loaded) […]