Thursday 12th January 2016
Another dreek day. Cold, wet, darkish and that was just the day encapsulated. Staying in does not help either of us as we need the outdoors even just to walk. Spent most of the day reading through Opened Ground paralleled by Corcoran’s Critical Study. If I merely followed the poems with the text analysis, I’d be there forever. I’ve taken to reading the selected section ahead of the crit. There are some gaps and I’ll have to amend this deficit somehow as I seem to have either lost or given away much of what was my early Heaney poetry. Having said that, I’m interested in what Neil has to say although I do find him a tad ‘professorly’ at times [a crueller man would say pretentious] but as I never studied English at this level at any time nor moved in his circle of academe, I can’t say much more than overly professorial.
Reading itself is a great pleasure especially in an area where I feel a kinship. The times I argued poetry at TASC with John, John, Eddie, Caroline & co, plus the input from Reevus and Pete Saunders are warm memories if starting to disappear in their own historic golden realm of myth. Below are the lines which first hooked me and I guess countless others in the mid to late 60s and were to be drilled into countless O Level and GCSE kids thereafter.
Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.
Did Heaney consciously see Poetry and being a professional Poet as his route out of the rural poverty envisaged by Kavanagh; but not the experience of Heaney as a child or was it just the reality of being what he was, a great Poet in the making?