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CCEA Curriculum Monitoring Programme 2018-19
This is our legacy website and will no longer be kept uptodate from Monday 20th January 2020.

Background and theme

Background details

Heaney refers to local Irish people throughout much of his poetry. The speaker tells of the trance-like state of the old man whom he imagines to be thinking of the glorious days of his youth, when the mobile shop was at its high point. He connects the old man in this poem to Irish mythology. The legend of Niamh and Oisin represents age and youth.

What the poem is about

The speaker of the poem encounters an old man who appears lost in memories, recollecting experiences from decades earlier. The speaker describes how the old man is rapt by the recollections ‘back in his twenties’.