Lick The Pencil

In a sequence that ultimately reveals a deep, underlying sorrow two shades are recalled: Heaney’s father Patrick and Colmcille. In the 1940’s and 50’s there existed pencils that produced purplish, semi-permanent markings referred to as ‘indelible’ pencils. It was not uncommon for people to lick the point possibly, in their mind, to darken the script. The pencil and its marks come to symbolise things that do not readily fade away. i  In search of nickname most suggestive of his father’s quirky ways and his farming skills Heaney establishes a shortlist. The first a peculiar mannerism (‘Lick the pencil’)  associated with his father’s professional need to make tallies, record deals agreed in the cattle-market in which he worked. Heaney thinks back […]