Heaney is touring the English Midlands. What he sees from his car window ignites a poetic charge expressing just how his mind and personality respond to things left behind (leavings), from field stubble to the scars inflicted by the Tudor Reformation. The poet’s eye meets burning fields after harvest time. His mid-Ulster farming background has taught him all about air funnels in heat (soft whoosh), farmers’ timings (sunset blaze) and the combustible materials involved (straw on blackened stubble). He can talk proportions (thatch-deep), clean start (freshening), fierceness (barbarous) and evening fire glow (crimson burn). Feigning period transport (I rode down England) he uses the coincidence of stubble burning (as they fired the crop) to clarify his title (the leavings of […]