Foreword

  Human Chain is Seamus Heaney’s thirteenth collection since Death of a Naturalist in 1966. His work over nearly half a century has lost none of its accessibility, erudition and vitality. The textual commentaries that follow seek to tease out what his poems are intimating in Human Chain. Of course, the poet’s ‘message’ will have started life as an essentially personal one, not intended primarily for his reader; accordingly, there are moments when some serious unravelling is required. In the case of a poet as accomplished, complex and focused as Heaney, the rewards for persevering are at once enriching, fortifying and hugely pleasurable.  There are issues, too, beyond ‘the text, the whole text and nothing but the text’: there is the question of ‘style’, […]