For the Commander of the Eliza

In a dark setting unrelieved by any chink of light Heaney pursues the issue of Irish suffering at the hands of the British (the 1845-8 famine conditions were introduced in Potato Digging iii). He describes an incident that upholds the poem’s epigraph and accounts for the burning sense of injustice still felt within the Irish psyche over 150 years later. The epigraph (drawn from The Great Hunger; Ireland 1845 – 49  by Cecil Woodham-Smith) sets out the visual manifestation of suffering  on Irish ground and the absence of compassion further up the chain of command; the most dismissive are the loftiest who hold the whip hand in London. CWS cites Routh Russell, a contemporary provider of reports on the Irish […]