Human Chain

Heaney’s title poem, dedicated to Terence Brown, salutes chains of support – human solidarity in the face of social disaster. He associates himself with the compassion, love and respect required of people who devote themselves selflessly to such missions The poem adapts the ‘shared burden’ theme of Miracle marking the backbreaking work undertaken by aid workers dedicated to the survival of victims of Third World famine and political repression. He imagines himself as an active even allegorical participant (he is a poet with a public voice and huge sensitivity to the Troubles in his own Northern Irish homeland). In the final couplet Heaney reflects on his own dwindling potential as a link in the human chain. Heaney is reviewing footage of basic […]