The First Gloss

Heaney takes the first poetic step in ‘change and revival’ mode, the ‘lift-off’ anticipated from the new Heaney Sweeney relationship. This short, clever piece alludes to the poet’s principal weapon the pen that featured in the first poem of Death of a Naturalist written in August 1964. The original ‘digging’ imagery is replaced by words used in the text editing process. The speaker gives himself two instructions: take hold (a firm grip to show new intent, to demonstrate mental preparation and determination); then subscribe, declare ownership of, sign up to the first downstroke of, say, a signature. This will represent the first step taken in the move from the orthodox justified line into hitherto fringe areas: the margin. Heaney deploys […]