Skip to main content


  March 2019
25 26 27 28 1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31


Sat 30 Mar, 8.30pm

Venue: Pavilion Theatre



Book Now Accessibility

Aeneid Book VI

with Stephen Rea and Neil Martin

Seamus Heaney’s last great project was his translation of Virgil’s Aeneid Book VI, which tells the haunting story of Aeneas’ descent into the Underworld to look for his father.
We are delighted to welcome, for this special performance, two friends of the poet; Stephen Rea – who knew and worked with Seamus Heaney for more than 30 years – who will read the full work with the live soundscape created by another Heaney friend, composer and cellist Neil Martin.
The journey described in Heaney’s translation, like its Virgilian original, has both a personal and a political dimension. In the Aeneid the hero’s father, Anchises, whom Aeneas carried out of the burning city of Troy on his back, dies. With the aid of the Cumaean Sibyl, Aeneas undertakes the frightening journey to visit him among the dead. Heaney’s relationship with his own father seems to have had a similar intensity to that of Aeneas and Anchises.
The first poem in Heaney’s debut book, Death of a Naturalist (1966) speaks of his father: “By God, the old man could handle a spade./ Just like his old man,” while the son, as poet, has exchanged a spade for a pen, though with no sense that he can surpass his father in his parallel but different labour.
In Elysium, Aeneas famously tries three times to embrace his father, but his arms encounter only empty air. The yearning of this moment would have been part of Heaney’s inspiration for undertaking the translation.
By kind permission of the Heaney Estate.

Subscribe to Mountains to Sea dlr Book Festival mailing list

* indicates required

Please select all the ways you would like to hear from Mountains to Sea dlr Book Festival:

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. For information about our privacy practices, please visit our website.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.