The Rain Stick

for Beth and Rand Rand Brandes: academic, critic and bibliographer working at Lenoir-Rhyne University, North Carolina; married to Beth; The poem first published in the New Republic in 1993 describes the ‘watery music’ produced by a cactus stalk. Heaney has discovered a snatch of pleasure that may be repeated at will.  In so doing he introduces a message found in 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). What comes out of it is unprecedented (a music that […]