The mark that Heaney’s ageing father left on a Dublin beach will never be obliterated by the incoming tide.
Walking Sandymount Strand with the old man left a trail: The dotted line my father’s ashplant made. As long as Heaney lives nothing the all-powerful sea can do will succeed in effacing the memory: something else the tide won’t wash away.
- dotted line: literally the line of marks imprinted by the stick on soft sand; metaphorically the space left on a form or letter upon which a person leaves his signature;
- Strand: a Dublin beach called Sandymount Strand;
- ashplant: the walking-stick that the elderly Patrick Heaney used to get about;
- tide … wash away: messages or sandcastles left on the sand do not survive the incoming tide;
the music of the poem: in this three-line piece four assonant strands are woven into the text; Heaney places them grouped within specific areas to create internal rhymes or reprises them at intervals or threads them through the text:
- alliterative effects allow pulses or beats, soothings or hissings or frictions of consonant sound to modify the assonant melodies:
- the poem stirs together sibilant [s] and [sh] sounds alongside alveolar plosives [t] [d];