The Sharping Stone

  A quintet of elegiac poems triggered by the discovery of a gift lying forgotten and unopened in a piece of home furniture. Heaney sets the context: (where the stone was discovered) In an apothecary’s chest of drawers; (its construction) Sweet cedar; its status (purchased second hand); its specific location in a drawer (one of its weighty deep-sliding recesses); the object itself (the sharping stone); its original intended destination): Our gift to him (further clues suggest his father); its mint condition (Still in its wrapping paper). The discovery generates a sense failure Like a baton of black light I’d failed to pass (a relay runner dropping the baton). apothecary: person who in olden times prepared and sold medicines and drugs; […]