The Rain Stick

for Beth and Rand First published in the New Republic in 1993 Heaney describes the ‘music’ produced by a cactus stalk. He recounts a moment of unexpected pleasure that may be repeated at will; in so doing he introduces the message of the collection’s final piece (Postscript), that of opening the heart and the senses to the simple delights that the world has to offer. The rain stick acquires the symbolic quality of an instrument of divine transmission.  To play this ‘instrument’ only one lesson is required: Upend the rain stick . The result of doing so is unexpected and miraculous: the cactus ‘instrument’ produces a music that you never would have known / To listen for. From this ‘ordinary’ […]