A Constable Calls Seamus Heaney
“A Constable Calls” is a political poem written by Seamus Heaney. Seamus Heaney is an Irish poet who lived in
Ulster. The Protestants and
Catholics in Ireland
always fight against each other. In Ulster, Catholics are in minority
and were persecuted. In this poem, Seamus Heaney narrates his childhood
experience when a constable came to his house to question his father. The cycle on which the constable came home is
the symbolic weapon of war. From the moment of the Constable’s arrival till he
goes away, everyone in the family were frightened with fear. Seamus Heaney has
very effectively narrated the horrible situation, keeping suspense till the
The poet narrates the visit of the constable on a bicycle. It was during his childhood days and how the boy was frightened with fear when he saw the constable is effectively described here. The bicycle is described as a terrible weapon of war with its huge rubber covering of the mudsplasher, the metal mudguard and fat black handlegrips. The edge of the dynamo is shining in the sunlight and its pedals are hanging because they are now free from the policeman’s boot. Even the cap of the policeman looked like a fearful thing when it was kept upside down on the floor near his chair. When the policeman came to make enquiries, the boy’s father was calculating the area of land in which he had cultivated the various kinds of crops. The boy was afraid of his father’s calculations and sat staring at the polished holster with its buttoned flap, the cord looped into the revolver butt.
Sitting on the chair, the constable unstrapped the heavy ledger and began to question the boy’s father. He asked a lot of silly questions and the father answered all clearly. Finally the constable asked him if there were any other crops he had planted. The father said “No”. But the boy knew there was a line of turnips growing outside the potato fields. He was also afraid that father might be punished and put into black hole in the barracks even for small guilt. When the enquiries were over, the constable closed the ledger which contained all the details. The poet calls it “the doomsday book”. The policeman fitted his cap back with two hands and looked at the boy to say goodbye. He put the ledger on the carrier and fixed it with the spring. He pushed it off with his boos and the bicycle went forward with tick, tick sound. The boy thought that a bomb was exploded.
1. What does the description of the bicycle suggest? The arrival of the constable to the boy’s home is like the dropping of an atom bomb. All the family members are terribly afraid of the constable. But the poet in his childhood days was more afraid of the cycle which looked like a horrible weapon of war and that is why the cycle is minutely described as a symbol of the horror.
2. What kind of enquiries does the policeman make?
The policeman asks a lot of silly questions.
3. What was the boy’s father doing when the policeman arrived for making enquiries?
When the constable came to make enquiries, the boy’s father was calculating the area of land in which he had cultivated the various kinds of crops.
4. What was the boy doing? The boy was afraid of father’s calculations and sat staring at the polished holster with its buttoned flap, the cord looped into the revolver butt.