Shelf Life

Memories are awakened by items that sit on ‘surfaces’ within Heaney’s private space; contrary tothe modern term ‘shelf-life’ that sets out the time it takes for perishables to become unfit for consumption, Heaney’s items remain timeless, have no ‘sell-by-date’. Heaney maps out his private space (in) six terse lyrics (MP p187); 1. Granite Chip The speaker once hammered a piece of Houndstooth stone ( ) off Joyce’s Martello/ Tower (near Dublin) recalling hard, Scottish granite associations (Aberdeen of my mind). He injured himself in the process: his human tissue was more vulnerable than the stone he gripped. Attractive though the surface and colourings of the granite chip were (this flecked insoluble brilliant) the stone has little in common with the […]