Heaney explicitly called the Glanmore Sonnets his “marriage poems,” but in the broadest sense they refer not only to the union between the poet and his wife but also to his acceptance of art as a part of his life and career. The first sonnet of the cycle in particular celebrates the joining or metaphorical marriage of art and everyday life.
The sonnet’s striking opening phrase “Vowels ploughed into other” can be interpreted on two levels. In an autobiographical reading, this phrase can be viewed as perhaps the most literal reference to Heaney’s marriage to Marie Devlin found throughout the entire poem. In marrying and joining their names as a couple, their “Vowels” (metonymically, their names) were mixed, or ploughed into one another, as one might say.
For a poet like Heaney, however, “Vowels” can represent poetic language in general, and not just proper names. Thus, in a more metaphorical sense, when the poet moved after marriage to a more rural location, his...
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