On the Spot

  The coldness of death prompts huge questions. The speaker has unearthed evidence of the failure of birds to reproduce. The sonnet moves from a tiny though significant example of biological death, decay and decline to global even universal laws of physics that hold matter in its planetary stand-off. Here is an example of Heaney’s subtle use of title: merely ‘being present where it happened’ is injected with the urgency suggested by ‘immediate, here and now’ and feelings of discomfort when one is or should be ‘put on the spot’. On an early-morning walk Heaney has unearthed a cold clutch of last year’s bird- eggs, a nestful, all but hidden and preserved intact by last year’s leaf-mould.  To a country […]