St Kevin and the Blackbird

The diptych focuses on an event from medieval Christian legend centred round the sixth-century Irish saint of Glendalough  translated into a parable of self-sacrifice and self­-forgetfulness which may also be read as a figure for the way the imagination can be totally possessed by its object. NC (p190) Images of St Kevin of Glendalough are plentiful. In his published Lectures Heaney referred to the poem indirectly as an example of poetry’s “angelic potential” and of ‘its function as an agent of possible transformation, of evolution towards that more radiant and generous life which the imagination desires’. The man he describes has placed himself in testing circumstances. The event he is remembered for made the reputation of humble Brother Kevin! The […]