The Strand


The mark that Heaney’s ageing father made on a Dublin beach will never be obliterated by the incoming tide.

Walking Sandymount Strand with the old man left a trail: The dotted line my father’s ashplant made. As long as Heaney lives nothing the all-powerful sea can do will succeed in effacing the memory: something else the tide won’t wash away.

  • dotted line: literally the line of marks imprinted by the stick on soft sand; metaphorically the space left on a form or letter upon which a person leaves his signature;
  • Strand: a Dublin beach called Sandymount Strand;
  • ashplant: the walking-stick that the elderly Patrick Heaney used to get about;
  • tide … wash away: messages or sandcastles left on the sand do not survive the incoming tide;

the music of the poem: in this three-line piece four assonant strands are woven into the text; Heaney places them grouped within specific areas to create internal rhymes or reprises them at intervals or threads them through the text:

  • alliterative effects allow pulses or beats, soothings or hissings or frictions of consonant sound to modify the assonant melodies:
  • the poem stirs together sibilant [s] and [sh] sounds alongside alveolar plosives [t] [d];

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