Everything you need to understand or teach A Drink of Water by Seamus Heaney.
While certain specifics of the sonnet's situation are never revealedthe identity of the woman, for instance, and the precise nature of her relationship with the speakerthe first lines' implications establish nearly all we need to know in the poem. The verb "came" in line 1 suggests two important possibilities. First, since it is in the past tense, we infer that the action described no longer takes placeshe no longer comes to the well. Combined with the images of old age and decrepitude that follow in the first quatrain "old bat," "staggering," "whooping cough," "slow diminuendo"this past-tense description suggests that the old woman has died. Second, the use of "came" instead of "went" implies that the speaker is already at the well when the woman arrives. From this, it is possible that the speaker owns the well and allows the woman to draw from it: that, at the beginning of the... View more of the A Drink of Water Summary