The Between and Finesse, with a note on Heaney

The concept ‘metaxu’ or ‘between’ is not a geometrical figure. We say ‘between finitude and the infinite,’ for example, as if they are to be classed together. There’s an asymmetry to be dealt with however beyond us such dealing may be.

Heaney’s poetry is full of such evanescent betweens, especially the late poetry. ‘A birch tree planted twenty years ago / Comes between the Irish Sea and me’ (‘In the Attic,’ from HUMAN CHAIN.)

That is, thinking the between requires finesse.

Author: Tom D'Evelyn

Tom D'Evelyn is a private editor and writing tutor in Cranston RI and, thanks to the web, across the US and in the UK. He can be reached at D'Evelyn has a PhD in Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley. Before retiring he held positions at The Christian Science Monitor, Harvard University Press, Boston University and Brown University. He ran a literary agency for ten years, publishing books by Leonard Nathan and Arthur Quinn, among others. Before moving to Portland OR he was managing editor at Single Island Press, Portsmouth NH. He blogs at and other sites.

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