The First Words

Heaney offers a version of a Marin Sorescu poem printed in ‘The Biggest Egg in the World’ (Bloodaxe 1987). Sorescu a Romanian from a humble farming background similar to Heaney’s is commenting on repressive political circumstances in his own particular way. He uses his ‘spirit level’ to establish just how much things are weighted against in a Communist state. A poet assesses the gap between what was promised and how things have turned out; it centres on corruption (the first words got polluted) – Heaney ‘s preference for ‘got’ over ‘were’ has something peasant-class, blunt and as-everyone-round-here-knows-very-well about it.  The changing content of flowing water offers a ready- made metaphor for contamination (river water in the morning / flowing with […]