Heaney dedicates this elegiac sequence to the memory of Colin Middleton the eminent Irish artist who described himself as the only surrealist painter of his time in Ireland. Born in Belfast in 1910 he died at the end of 1983. He became a friend of the Heaneys even selling them a piece of his work (thirty guineas forty-odd years ago). i Heaney describes the correspondence he perceived between Middleton’s gaze (smoke … already in his eyes) – alluding cleverly to both to his abstract technique and  his tobacco addiction – and the intensity with which the contortion of his artist’s eye (the way he’d narrow them to size you up) made Heaney feel like subject matter (a canvas all the while). […]