The Poetry Place

Storm on the Island - Immersed

Here is an ‘immersed’ version of Heaney’s poem.  It can be used as a starting point before approaching the original version.  It can also be used as part of revision, asking students to try to reconstruct the original by deleting non-Heaney words and inserting the line breaks.

Living here, we are prepared.  We build our houses squat, sink the walls in rock and roof them with good slate.  The wizened earth had never been fertile enough to grow much more than grass. It’s never troubled us with hay!  So, as you can see, there are no stacks or stooks that can be lost in high winds. Nor are there any trees which might prove good company and shelter when it blows full blast. You know what I mean - leaves and branches can raise a dreadfully loud chorus in a gale so that you can listen to the thing you fear forgetting that it pummels your house too.

We’re close to nature here, but there are no trees, no natural shelter. You might think that the sea is good company, exploding comfortably down there on the cliffs. But no: when it begins, the flung spray hits the very windows and spits like a tame cat turned savage! We just sit tight while the wind dives and strafes like an enemy aircraft, but invisibly. Empty space is hiding a salvo – and we are bombarded by nothing more than the empty air. So it’s strange, it is really a huge nothing that we fear.


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