Bogland Variations

In his poem, Bogland, Seamus Heaney describes how in the action of digging the bog there is a palpable connection to history as each successive layer is stripped away. He contrasts this Irish introspection with the expansiveness of the American landscape, alluded to in the opening line of the poem: “We have no prairies.” Bogland describes a physical and psychological landscape that is intimately familiar to me. My mother emigrated from Ireland to England as a young woman and I grew up with a strong awareness of her Irish identity. Over time her histories and her immigrant experience, with its complex and conflicting loyalties, were folded into my sense of self. In 1999 I moved from England to the US, mirroring her experience and adding another link to the complex chain of identity.