What this blog is and how to use it

This blog contains poems that have caught my attention over the years. Many of the poems I've discussed and explored with 16 -19 year old students in my capacity as lecturer in English.

Browse the list of poems by scrolling down the page or read the titles of poems or names of poets in the sidebar 'Poem Titles and Poets'. Then click on the title or poet.

Tuesday 5 May 2009

A Constable Calls by Seamus Heaney

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His bicycle stood at the window-sill,
The rubber cowl of a mud-splasher
Skirting the front mudguard,
Its fat black handlegrips

Heating in sunlight, the "spud"
Of the dynamo gleaming and cocked back,
The pedal treads hanging relieved
Of the boot of the law.

His cap was upside down
On the floor, next his chair.
The line of its pressure ran like a bevel
In his slightly sweating hair.

He had unstrapped
The heavy ledger, and my father
Was making tillage returns
In acres, roods, and perches.

Arithmetic and fear.
I sat staring at the polished holster
With its buttoned flap, the braid cord
Looped into the revolver butt.

"Any other root crops?
Mangolds? Marrowstems? Anything like that?"
"No." But was there not a line
Of turnips where the seed ran out

In the potato field? I assumed
Small guilts and sat
Imagining the black hole in the barracks.
He stood up, shifted the baton-case

Further round on his belt,
Closed the domesday book,
Fitted his cap back with two hands,
And looked at me as he said goodbye.

A shadow bobbed in the window.
He was snapping the carrier spring
Over the ledger. His boot pushed off
And the bicycle ticked, ticked, ticked.

Click here for a detailed commentary on this poem


  1. i love this.thank you for the joy of great literature!¬

  2. Thank you for posting this!I couldn't find a copy online anywhere, i really needed to as well as i left my book in school-any chance you could post tate's avenue?

  3. wooooooooooooooooooooow YEAH!!!! GO POETRY !!!!

  4. Hey guys! Thank you soooooo much for posting this! Y'know, I used to be a lover of maths, but Heaney's poetry has truly converted me! Poetry rules!!!

  5. if it's "really sad and gay" why are you on this site reading it???

  6. It is so unnecessary to for people to put up such comments like some above.
    Can't you just appreciate the beautiful poetry and move on?

  7. Hey it's okay. It's poetry. It's good to get a reaction. If the posts become explicitly offensive and use taboo language I'll delete them.

    Right now hundreds of innocent men women and children are being bombed in Syria. In some parts of Africa there is famine and thousands are dying.

    Some of my friends are gay. Some of friends and family are depressed. I feel honoured to be associated with them all.

    Love David

  8. david i agree to get a reaction is good however biased it is - i read one night to a rapt audience on Open Mic nite , the next gig i was laughed at and i thanked the person for her chsallenge - i read live a lot of my own stuff (ODerryBoy) and seamus heaney - we were born in the same townland Shanemullagh
    thats where the similarities stop

  9. whats is this poem about ? i read it & read it , and dont get it -_- ! does hes father died

  10. it's about the policeman coming to Heaney's house that's all x :)

  11. Its about much more than a policeman coming to Heaney's home. Its about Protestant oppression of the Catholic minority in Northern Ireland during the troubles. The resentment Heaney had for the RUC, at least as a child, is demonstrated greatly her with his metaphors about 'fat black handle grips' and guns. A little bit of historicism when you are critiquing this poem would go a long way. Or even just a brief synopsis of the troubles in Northern Ireland.

  12. Words can little express what I feel by reading this....simply great