The King of the Ditchbacks

is dedicated to John Montague, man of Letters, born in New York (1929) and brought up in Ireland. Montague dedicated his poem ‘Hearth Song’ to Heaney and worked successfully with him in recording their work for Claddagh Records (1968). DOD (p495) In the final three poem sequence of Part 1 Heaney introduces the Sweeney of Sweeny Astray and Sweeney Redevivus (Part 3). He traces the early development of a remarkable relationship between a twentieth century living poet and a 7th century character from Irish literature who has loomed large in his poetic consciousness for more than a decade. I Contact is established with an ‘otherworldly’ presence that has invaded the poet’s space (As if a trespasser/ unbolted a forgotten gate)and […]