A Waking Dream

The Sweeney Redevivus poems are fascinating in terms of voicing. In his notes Heaney indicates that they are ‘voiced for Sweeney’ but this does not and cannot exclude the poet’s participation. Each poem resembles a piece of music with a background accompaniment and two voices that pick up the melody in turn or together; the mood of each piece varies as does its ensemble effect on the listener’s ear and the reader’s sensibility. Sharing Sweeney status has changed everything. Old patterns will no longer work. The oxymoron of the title sets out the ease with which one forgets this new reality. An ‘old wives’ tale told that a bird could be caught by sprinkling salt on its tail; the new […]