The Unacknowledged Legislator’s Dream

I In his essay, ‘A Defense of Poetry’ (1821) English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley christened poets the ‘unacknowledged legislators of the world’. He felt that their unique blend of observation, judgment and refined expression identified them as the ideal proposers of laws promoting societal evolution, development and improvement. That identifies Heaney as one of the breed and Heaney can picture an alternative!  Mindful perhaps of WH Auden’s contrary view that ‘poetry makes nothing happen’ he voices his prose-poem to a spokesman (let us call him ‘Poet’) who tests the water and ends up in a kind of Kafkaesque nightmare (dream). In dialogue with DOD (p 181) Heaney had the following to say about his prose-poem: It’s a free-floating invention, that […]