A gratitude, therefore, that the whole race or culture has not been wiped out even if the city has been razed; gratitude that one strong torch-bearer has escaped the flames with one essential flame burning, to light another place.
The reader feels the kind of gratitude the gods of Troy must have felt when they saw Aeneas creep from the lurid fires, bearing ancestry on his shoulders and the sacred objects in his hands.
For a rich selection of other Heaney similes and metaphors, see our celebration of Beowulf, both his version and that of Kevin Crossley-Holland.
Source: Seamus Heaney, Finders Keepers: Selected prose 1971-2001 (London: Faber and Faber, 2003), p. 166
Photo credit: skeeze at pixabay and ‘Aeneas Flight from Troy’ (1598), Federico Barocci (1535-1612)