Seeing the Sick

Heaney’s father, Patrick appears on a score of occasions in the Heaney collections between ‘Digging’, the very first poem of Death of a Naturalist (1966), and ‘Lick the Pencil’ from Human Chain (2010), the last published collection in the poet’s lifetime. Heaney covered every stage in their father-and-son relationship – from his childhood awe of the wheeler-deal cattle man and small farmer carrying his iconic ash plant walking stick – to his developing recognition of his father as a fellow mortal with strengths and weakness like himself. Heaney acknowledges and regrets the awkwardness they experienced in expressing their affection for each other, in, for example, a group of poems from The Spirit Level (1996) and later in Album iv from […]