In the Beech

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. The Sweeney Heaney voice speaks from a treetop; below is Heaney’s pre-D-Day world of the 1943-4. The unseen bird-person imagines he is playing a strategic military rĂ´le: a lookout posted and forgotten. Man-made new and rural old are side by side: the concrete road … the bullocks’ […]