A Winter’s Tale

Referring to the period before his sabbatical in 1971 (spent at Berkeley University in California) Heaney revealed to DOD (p124) that ‘Earlier on, in 1969 and 1970, I’d written the group of poems about women in distress – ‘Shore Woman’, ‘Maighdean Mara’, ‘A Winter’s Tale’, ‘Limbo’. Heaney’s ‘more inward, broody’ mindset is present in A Winter’s Tale, an episode from the life of a lost soul linked via the title with Shakespeare’s Perdita (reference Latin ‘lost one’). Heaney knew the girl’s identity through the community grapevine. Offspring with mental health problems could be a feature of the ‘closed’ Ulster villages of and before Heaney’s time (see also ‘Stick Drawings’ of Spirit Level). The poet recalls a group that hunted down […]