Derry Derry Down

The title is taken from the refrain of The Keeper, a traditional song, ostensibly about a gamekeeper searching for female deer but loaded with the insinuation of sexual encounter. Heaney combines young speaker, factual experience, fairy-story and ‘still life’ Art form to describe pleasurable moments from his life. His two settings elevate the less refined sensuality of the original song. In 2011 Helen Vendler spotted Heaney’s subtlety – ‘Two mildly erotic snatches of pleasure ‘, she commented, adding ‘sensuous delight in Heaney has often a tinge of the erotic’. i  Heaney was foraging for fruit close to his Mossbawn home. It was July and he spotted the assonant ripeness (lush sunset blush) of a full bosomed fruit (big ripe gooseberry). His daring attempt […]