The Last Mummer

Heaney revealed that his ‘last mummer is, like the servant boy (of the previous poem), an alter ego of sorts, He, too, is ‘resentful and impenitent’(DOD130). The narrative interlaces themes of dispossession, endangered tradition, ‘progress’, superstition, remnants of Scottish New Year ‘good luck’ custom and symbols of Catholic communion set against a landscape literally as old as the hills of Ireland. The poem moves from action to elegy. If Heaney’s servant boy symbol of Irish subjugation was disgruntled but placid by nature, his last mummer, portrayed as the last survivor of an age-old Irish mystery-play tradition, is driven beyond ‘patience’ and ‘counsel’. I The representative of Old Ireland has come prepared for direct action: a stone in his pocket,/ an […]