Helen Vendler, long-term friend of the poet and author of books, articles and reviews of his poetry, provides a key to this cryptic, elusive piece: In this dream of guilt and repentance Seamus Heaney is a Wordsworthian boy robbing a nest of eggs (cf. The Prelude (1850), Book First, ll. 326-28). Placed close in the collection to ‘Summer Home’ which describes a holiday crisis in Heaney’s relationship with his wife, Marie Heaney, for which he suffers acute guilt feelings, Somnambulist provides a ‘psychological’ dream sequel in which he and his estranged wife take part. A crime against life (the theft of a mother bird’s egg) is exposed via a tragedian’s dramatic body posture: the somnambulist stares at the physical agents of theft […]