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First, a look at his Nobel lecture shows that in his boyhood, when a train passed by, the earth shook and the surface of the drinking water in the bucket would "ripple delicately, concentrically, and it utter silence." Did Heaney write that down as a young man, or did he simply have a great ability to recall what happened when a train passed? It doesn't matter, because the reader is there with him. The air around him was "alive" and it was "signaling too," he wrote in his lecture.
Why did he say "signaling" ? How can the air be "alive" ? This is how the sensitive person sees the world. Through his senses. He feels the world, hears the world, and tastes the world. The wind in his childhood "swept" down, through a hole that was bored in the corner of the kitchen window, right into the "innards" of their radio. The radio is made human, and the voices that came out of the radio - right after "a little pandemonium of burbles and squeaks" - were of the BBC, reporting on WWII.
So readers know that Heaney grew up during the war, and heard all the latest news about prisoners of war that were captured, cities that were bombed, bombers that were lost by the allies. What is also very interesting in his Nobel lecture is that those moments as a child listening to voices coming out of the radio led Heaney to later ("as the years went on and my listening became more deliberate" ) become enchanted with the story being told, not the news itself. "What I was after was the thrill of a story..." and he knows now that those moments of listening led him on a "...journey which has brought me now to this honoured spot." The platform felt more like a "space station than a stepping stone," and hence, he allowed himself "the luxury of walking on air." His poetry reflects his love of a good story.
He says he loved Robert Frost for his "farmer's accuracy" and "his wily down-to-earthness." That love of describing what happens on a farm apparently led him to try to be as accurate as he could in Churning Day[continue]
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