The poem is about difficulties that heaney and his wife are having, which could be described by an onlooker as a 'shame'(!) From the foulness of the atmosphere, brought out by the larval mat, “possessed air” and the sour summer, to the metaphor of his wife’s breasts (“Stalactites in the cave’s old, dripping dark-”), Heaney attempts to show his love for his wife and how much he wants his marriage to work. The poem uses very sensual imagery of flowers and reference to the church in connection to marriage and sex. As well as the imagery, the structure is poem is inconsistent, ranging from couplets to quatrains and, in the second part, cinquain. Finally, there is also a sense of imperfection, which the author feels and can be seen in light with two of his famous poems – Blackberry-Picking and Death of a Naturalist. So I would link this poem with the word 'shame' but not in something to be shameful of, but that it is a shame that Heaney's marriage is not perfection but what marriage is perfect?!