Station Island – the Sequence IX

The five sonnet sequence recalls a very troubled, wakeful night during Heaney’s pilgrimage to Lough Derg around 1960. Poetic licence entitles Heaney to introduce the shade of an IRA hunger striker (said to be a composite of Francis Hughes and Thomas McElwee who operated out of the Bellaghy area during the Troubles and eventually starved themselves to death  in 1981 for the cause) held prisoner in the Maze prison and fasting very publicly to achieve prisoner-of-war status. The hunger-striker’s ghostly presence sets off a train of reactions that amount to a confession that Heaney’s reluctance to use his public voice has placed him in a less than honourable position and calls for a change of direction. A hunger striker’s voice […]