The collection moves from Heaney’s temporary separation from family and home as an adolescent exile in a boarding school to the pained recall of terminal severance. His Virgilian diptych focuses on his mother and father long since dead. There is an element of nightmare in both depictions. The two figures demonstrate their personalities via the challenges they dealt with and the circumstances in which they operated. As so often Heaney’s ingenious choice of title awakens multiple associations: his mother and father, so long a solid close-knit couple, exist now only in his memory and the eternal present of his poem; death has decoupled two links from one end of a human chain to which for the time being Heaney remains […]