Heaney’s second of three ingenious place-name poems contains a phonetic energy that identifies the poet’s specific Ulster background and alludes to the ‘Irish underlay’ of place, time and language that he explores in Wintering Out. As Heaney points out in the notes that follow the ‘languagey’ poems bridged the gap between his working language (English) and his Ulster Irish origins. The poet rehearses the pronunciation of a village that lies within an emotional stone’s throw of his childhood home at Mossbawn: Toome. He describes in words the oral gymnastics required to produce the genuine Ulster sound: My mouth holds round/ the soft blasting (the burst of compressed air from the throat released by consonant plosive [t]). Distance lends enchantment: Toome, […]