A Constable Calls by Seamus Heaney

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The Constable Calls By Seamus Heaney A Constable Calls is the second in a sequence of six poems entitled 'Singing School' which concludes Heaney's fourth collection 'North' (1975). The poem is a vivid description of an incident from the poet's childhood - a policeman making an official visit to his father's farm at Mossbawn to record tillage returns. There is something grotesquely bizarre about an armed representative of the law travelling by bicycle around the Ulster countryside to record agricultural statistics. Although the incident is described through the impressionable eyes of a child, we are also aware of the wiser presence of the adult Heaney. On a broader level the poem accurately records the sense of resentment and alienation…show more content…
The new king suppressed Saxon uprisings and introduced Norman customs and institutions into England. The Book contained an extensive survey of the lands of England in order to establish an informed basis for taxation. The unpopular survey was given its name because, like the Biblical Day of Judgement, there could be no appeal against it. There is also an implied allusion to another William, the Protestant William of Orange, also an intruder, who defeated the Catholic King James and imposed his rule on Northern Ireland. There is an ironic hint too at Catholic guilt in the allusion to the Domesday Book. The line Fitted his cap back with two hands echoes the 'fat black handlegrips' of the opening verse, emphasising the constable's lack of humanity by linking him to his bicycle. The action also conceals the one hint of his humanity, his 'slightly sweating hair'. The fact that he looked at me as he said goodbye is open to several interpretations. It could suggest the child's fear that the constable is aware of the 'crime' that has been committed and of his (silent) complicity in it. It could represent an attempt by the constable to intimidate the boy. On a positive note it could indicate an (unsuccessful) attempt by the constable to elicit a positive reaction through establishing eye-contact. The word 'shadow' implies that the constable is not a real person, but also that he has cast a (temporary) shadow over

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