Sweeney’s Returns

The Sweeney Redevivus poems are fascinating in terms of voicing. In his notes Heaney indicates that they are ‘voiced for Sweeney’ but this does not and cannot exclude the poet’s participation. Each poem resembles a piece of music with a background accompaniment and two voices that pick up the melody in turn or together; the mood of each piece varies as does its ensemble effect on the listener’s ear and the reader’s sensibility . Heaney explores the emotional reactions of his exiled king whose voice is dominant in the poem. In Sweeney Astray exile has torn Sweeney away from his wife Eorann (who in the legend takes another partner).The frustration of his separation and the enduring nature of physical attraction […]