The pietistic tone he adopts in his discussion of the poems is just as much in evidence in his discussion of the life. An example: 'Heaney wrote often of the sanctuary of the cottage at Glanmore in Co Wicklow that he and his family rented and later bought: a tranquil space for writing, but also a refuge from war.' Heaney has been criticized for his timidity in getting out of Belfast and going to live in a safer place. At the very least, Roy Foster's account is naive, as naive as it would be to write of Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears living a tranquil life in the United States, after abandoning war-torn Britain. At the very least, Seamus Heaney's decision shown not a trace of moral grandeur, although I don't equate Belfast during the troubles with Britain during the Second World War. Northern Ireland was a very violent place, but there was never a war there.
This is poor analysis. Only the first line is comprehensively successful. He's right to praise 'clacked' but wrong to find the line 'My tongue was a filling estuary' and the succeeding lines successful. A reading of my page will make this clear. The linkage claimed is between the salt water in estuaries and 'the saltwater taste of the creatures.' Al Alvarez seems not to know that there are freshwater estuaries as well as salt water estuaries. The linkage Seamus Heaney finds between the tongue, small and solid, and an estuary, large and liquid, is tenuous. My page The poetry of Seamus Heaney: flawed success explains why a linkage such as this is such a failure, in the section :
Blackberry Picking - Seamus Heaney - Essay
The Bog Queen, unlike the the people who are the subjects of the other bog poems, was found in Ireland, specifically Northern Ireland, in 1781 on the estate of Lord Moira in County Down. A strong linkage between these people (the ones found in Denmark were sacrificial victims, according to P.V. Glob, who wrote 'The Bog People) and the victims of violence in Northern Ireland is commonly claimed. The claim is fanciful, forced, factitious. Heather O' Donoghue endorses the claim in 'Heaney, Beowulf and the Medieval Literature of the North' ('The Cambridge Companion to Seamus Heaney'). It's no more plausible than her claim of 'similarities between saga society and the domestic violence of the Ulster troubles.' The claim is obviously of strong or fairly strong similarities. Weak linkages are all that can be claimed.