Two Stick Drawings

Two vignettes borrowed from the lost domain of childhood portray youngsters in circumstances that to Heaney’s eye provided them with uninhibited pleasure. Walking-sticks form the main props to the action. 1 Heaney reflects on the actions and responses of a playmate (Claire O’Reilly)  wilful enough to misappropriate her granny’s stick for her own purposes –  its shape (crook-necked) ideal for blackberry-picking expeditions (snare the highest briars) and providing a solution to Claire’s refusal to be denied access to the best fruit (always grew the ripest blackberries). In comparison the fate of a ‘heroine’ of Greek mythology (Persephone) was much less fortuitous (in the halfpenny place compared to Claire), Claire’s nature ignored regulation (she’d trespass and climb gates) or danger (walk […]