Churning Day

Heaney describes the production of farm-made butter witnessed as a youngster. The poem reveals close observations of the technical stages that accompany a ‘magical’ transformation. The process is akin to alchemy: the family produces gold from base metal, butter from milk! They are magicians The rising cream of the milk gradually formed a thick crust with the texture and colour of building materials: coarse-grained as limestone rough-cast. The milk-containers are four crocks/ … large pottery bombs, an analogy that forecasts the explosive transformation that will ultimately take place, echoed, perhaps, in the later reference to the suffocating sulphur mine. On its journey to the butter-churn the milk underwent a radical change, from its creation inside the cow’s hot brewery of […]