Servant Boy

Heaney’s poem, based on the experiences of a childhood neighbour Ned Thompson, makes a powerful statement about Irish dispossession at the hands of anglo-scottish invaders and their descendants. The deteriorating circumstances he witnessed upon his return from his sabbatical year at Berkeley served only to confirm the seemingly unchanging fate of the Catholic minority. Heaney portrays a male servant of indeterminate age, averse to his subservient status (boy) left with little choice but to turn the other cheek and bide his time in the hope of improved circumstances: wintering out/ the back-end of a bad year. The young male goes about his menial routine (swinging a hurricane-lamp through some outhouse): an unskilled hand like countless others over the centuries (a […]