Midnight Anvil

Heaney is reminded of the last seconds of December 31st, 1999 when local blacksmith, Barney Devlin, already in his eighties, struck twelve hammer-blows on his anvil for the millennium. In an article Heaney described this moment as a ‘strike’ similar to the 9/11 ‘strike’ in that both ‘strikes, the latter a hostile act, the former celebratory, acted as ‘tuning-forks’ for poems’. What starts as a remembered happening becomes an elegiac tribute to blacksmiths over history. Heaney reveals he was not actually present in the smithy on that New Year’s Eve yet can celebrate the resonance of the moment (I can still hear it). Modern technology permitted Devlin’s nephew 8000 miles away in Canada to share the happening (the cellular phone […]