Heaney's collection Electric Light was published in 2001. The author had at first chosen to call it The Real Names, because of the presence of so many names in its pages. But when he wrote the last poem, Electric Light, he decided
to choose this as the title poem because ,as he himself said, he realized that there was actually "light all over the place , from the shine of the weir in the very first poem to the "reprieving light" of my father's smile in the
penultimate poem of the book. This is a collection of different poetic genres, including lyrics, elegies, eclogues, sonnets , epigrams, glosses, travel poems, translations and even anecdotes in verse, genres which Heaney often revisits with his personal technique , shifting registers with great nonchalance. The collection also contains many of the author's usual themes: childhood memories, his rural upbringing , the presence of the countryside , love of the quotidian,
meditations on violence and poetry, ageing and death.
The volume is divided into two parts. The first part is mainly a recovery of events, places , people of the author's rural 1950s childhood. The second part , however, includes elegies to dear and famous departed friends, such as Ted Hughes and Joseph Brodsky, as well as poems dedicated to Iesser known people and an ode to Heaney's dying father, Seeing the Sick, is the most moving poem of this section. The volume also contains detailed description of nature, evokes traces of
Ireland in Spain and Greece, and ends , in Electric Light, with the image of the young Heaney standing on a chair and reaching a light switch for the first time, which may also stand symbolically for both author's earliest poetic
inspirations and for the luminous slant he frequently gives to events and objects from everyday life.