Heaney’s moving, celebratory eight-sonnet sequence picks out moments from a lifetime spent close his mother Margaret Kathleen Heaney née McCann who died three years before the publication of ‘The Haw Lantern’. Heaney set himself the challenge of expressing his love for her and his debt to her in the sensitive ways of which only he is capable. To this end he added the demands of the sonnet form. He commented (DOD312): When my mother died, my own thing was easier to complete. I actually enjoyed writing those sonnets, and did them quickly. And quickest of all was the one about folding sheets, which also turns out to be the most intricate and most playful. Heaney dips into the maternal line […]