cover image Seeing Things

Seeing Things

Seamus Heaney. Farrar Straus Giroux, $19 (112pp) ISBN 978-0-374-25776-7

Suggestively framed by the poet's translations of excerpts from the Aeneid and the Inferno , this collection combines Heaney's richly textured style with visionary intent: the desire to invoke his dead father. Just as Aeneas begs for one meeting with his dear father, so does Heaney (Selected Poems 1966 - 1987) , and much of the book records those glimpses. In the title poem he recollects ``That afternoon / I saw him face to face, he came to me / With his damp footprints out of the river, / And there was nothing between us there / That might not still be happily ever after.''18 Heaney's spiritual excursions, reminiscent of Dante's, to the ghostly past and underworld will remind readers of the difficulties of voyages of the soul: ``So draw no attention, steer and concentrate / On the space that flees between like a speeded-up / Meltdown of souls from the straw-flecked ice of hell.''84 Although readers may sometimes get lost in the windings of the otherworld so vigorously evoked, most will judge the journey well worth the effort. (Dec.)