A Brigid’s Girdle

for Adele* The poet offers a warm hand of support to a friend with a life-threatening condition; he has known her from his Harvard days. The poem’s elegiac tone is ominous. Heaney recounts a previous contact with Adele, both the where (rustic table under magnolias in South Carolina) and the when (early spring in South Carolina as blossoms fell on me). The setting in which he wrote to her is vividly imprinted on his sense-memory: vision – a dwelling house (gable) sharp and majestic (as clean-lined as the prow of a white liner) set against strong Spring light (bisected sunlight in the sunlit yard); emotion –for him a moment of respite (glad of the early heat and the first quiet) […]