• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Bone Dreams by Seamus Heaney - An Analysis

Extracts from this document...


Bone Dreams by Seamus Heaney - An Analysis Bone Dreams is an obscure and difficult poem to understand. In all my searching on the internet, I found very little to help me in my analysis of this poem and so the ideas are basically my own. I might be wide of the mark, but for anybody struggling to understand this poem, it might at least give you some ideas of your own. I make no apology for asking questions or for sounding vague or even muddled in places. I hope that this essay is of help to somebody, somewhere. The poem begins in a thoughtful mood; the voice is relaxed, "White bone found/on the grazing" suggesting that the speaker is walking in the countryside when he discovers a piece of bone in the grass. He uses tactile imagery to describe his find, the bone is "rough, porous" and has "the language of touch". This image would be powerful if not for the mildness of the language, which conveys a musing quality in its passivity, for example, "found" and "grazing" - these words have nothing of a hurry about them and suggest a peacefulness of mind in the opening stanzas. He continues to describe the piece of bone, making comparisons with a "ship-burial" and notes the impressions in the grass as "yellowing, ribbed". ...read more.


This obviously draws on the myth of David and Goliath, where the bigger and stronger giant is vanquished by a small boy who is only equipped with a sling when he goes into battle. The giant, laughing at the size of the boy, is taken by surprise when he hurls a stone at him, which fells him. The suggestion is that if Ireland could catch England unawares, they could beat them in a centuries long battle. Even so, the imagery does imply that this is a petulant thought without much hope attached to it. Before he has even finished the idea of hurling the bone across the ocean in a futile gesture of defiance he is already wishing that he could in some way accompany it, to "follow its drop/ to strange fields". The implication is that he is thinking about England, the Irish/English situation, but before this develops, he moves into the second section of the poem and into a digression. He with a kenning, "Bone House", and then refers us to a definition of the phrase; "A skeleton", in old Norse; the language of the Vikings, those other invaders of Ireland. Curiously, his thoughts of the Viking invaders are benign in comparison to his thoughts on the English invaders, although this can easily be attributed to the continuing situation in Northern Ireland today. ...read more.


as being "a love nest in the grass", highly suggestive in itself of pubic hair and not dissimilar to the expression, "snake in the grass". The obvious sexual metaphor of the snake and the penis should not, I believe, be discounted! Of course, there are layers of meaning here, as in almost everywhere in a Heaney poem, and so these lines might also suggest a bed or a pile of hay. The idea of the sneaky snake in the grass, too, could suggest the mixed pedigrees of both the English and Irish races, due to invasion. He then speaks tenderly of "holding my lady's head" and of turning himself into bone "by gazing" - which is when the poem begins to become obscure and difficult to fathom. The language is erotic, "my hands, on the sunken fosse of her spine" are highly suggestive of male hands caressing a woman's body in a sexual way. A fosse is a damp ditch or shallow moat, and so represents the female vagina. In which case, if the female part of the equation in the English/Irish argument is usually figured as Ireland, as disempowered and feminised, does he therefore imagine himself as "a chalk giant" spread out across the Irish landscape or is he envisaging himself as an invading male, with England as disempowered, in a kind of fantasy rape? The chalk giants of the west of England are, after all, ancient fertility symbols, depicted with giagantic, erect penises. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Language: Context, Genre & Frameworks section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Language: Context, Genre & Frameworks essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Language Aquisition Notes

    5 star(s)

    * The connections between developments in children's language and their general conceptual development * The beginnings of reading and writing. LANGUAGE CHANGE Tips for answering Language Change Questions * Stick to frameworks * Get as much context as you can in - eg look at the date and try to think what would have been happening at the time.

  2. Why did the Scots win the Battle of Bannockburn?

    King Edward second was not such a great leader although he had won a few battles before. Seeing as Edward's army was about six times greater than Robert the Bruce's, King Edward was more than certain that he was going to win this battle.

  1. Frontline - Telling the Truth

    in "Playing the Ego Card" Brian stated he would rather cover a "pub brawl in Manly" over a massacre of thousands if there were good images. Frontline's direct interference with the hostage situation in "The Siege" is also a good example of how perspective influences meaning.

  2. An analysis of variations in style in comparison to Standard English.

    In comparison to that you can find unofficial figures which tell us that Hanover is most likely to be accent-free. Standard English, on the other hand, is more of an indicator for an upper social status, it can be seen as a class-dialect, owing it's origin in the main not to geographical but to socio-economic causes.

  1. Language Investigation on Shampoo Bottles

    An example of this minimal persuasive method is the catchphrase "Treats your scalp, cares for your hair". The verb "cares" can only be ascribed to humans or animals and not inanimate objects; by using this verb metaphorically for the shampoo personifies it giving it human value which reflects on the

  2. Creative writing and commentary. It was the year 2015 and Earth was exploring ...

    Patrick looked at Rachel "What made you get this then little sis', thought you would have got something from Earth not here" Rachel said "Ramani said it was good, so I decided to buy it" James laughs "Oh yeah, who's Ramani then?" Daniel looked at her "Yes, who is Ramani?

  1. Undersea Walking

    will witness, some of which have appeared in other aquatic successes such as "Shark Tale" and "SpongeBob SquarePants." After my half an hour was up, I was tapped on the shoulder by one of our guides, and slowly re-climbed the ladder to air and sunlight.

  2. Linguistic Analysis of Dahl and Blyton

    and accommodate itself to their needs and expectations; that the style of a piece is the manner in which an author uses language to accomplish this. Chambers argues that for a text to be successful with a child, the style must be specifically suited to children.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work