In the Chestnut Tree

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. An unseen observer looks down from the chestnut tree in which he has landed. The female figure who appears might have stepped straight out of a Renaissance painting, maybe one actually seen by Heaney and reworked as a canvas in words. The sylvan setting gives human presence […]