The door was open and the house was dark

Heaney’s ‘dream’ poem is dedicated to the memory of close friend David Hammond, much admired Northern Irish writer, singer, teacher, songwriter, historian, musician, film-maker and broadcaster who died in August 2008. As with all dreams the conscious and sub-conscious contribute ostensibly at random to the dream’s main ‘message’. In a BBC interview with Eimaar Flanagan of Sept 23, 2010 Heaney insisted the poem was not written – but dreamt. ‘The dream is just recorded in verse that rhymes. It was an extremely strange, haunting dream. One of those dreams that marks, that you don’t forget’. Heaney’s indirect reference (hence perhaps the quotation marks) to Virgil’s Aenied vi (ll.172-177) – ‘Death’s dark door stands open day and night. But to retrace […]