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Casualty, Limbo, Graubelle Man, Tollund Man, Mid-Term Break and Funeral Rites offer us varying representations, interpretations of and attitudes towards death.Compare Heaney’s poetic treatment of this theme across the poems.

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Introduction

Casualty, Limbo, Graubelle Man, Tollund Man, Mid-Term Break and Funeral Rites offer us varying representations, interpretations of and attitudes towards death. Compare Heaney's poetic treatment of this theme across the poems. Murderous, entrenched, complex - the Northern Ireland conflict seems to defy rational discourse. But from the contradictions and tensions has sprung some remarkable art, not least the poetry of the Troubles, now widely recognised as among the most vibrant contemporary writing in the English language. Through the six poems mentioned the theme of death is very prominent. We start with "Tollund Man" and "Grauballe Man". In these two poems Heaney portrays the deaths as a tragedy, but opposed to his other poems, he refers hear mainly to the physical appearance of the bodies. In "Tollund Man" he starts the poem with a very vivid, striking description of the body, and expresses his desired pilgrimage. Heaney focus' mainly on the period after death in this poem and describes how its miraculous preservation has made it seem to become one with the earth "she tightened her torc on him". Heaney seems in awe of the 'corpse', which after death the body has taken on a Christ like appearance "I could risk blasphemy". This death does not have any direct relation, as such, to Heaney, and therefore does not have the same sort of heartfelt mourning. ...read more.

Middle

We learn in the sixth stanza that Heaney hadn't seen his brother for six weeks having been "Away at school". The words "Paler now", hang at the end of the stanza causing a sad pause before the sentence continues and describes how little changed in appearance the boy is in death, the difference being his paler complexion and "poppy bruise". The final line stands out on its own. Almost every word is emphasised so that the reader must take in the line's message and the shock and deep grief that the family must have felt. There is an element of shock for the reader reading it for the first time also, when they discover who has died and that he was a mere four years old. Again in Funeral Rites it is a person close to Heaney who has died. In this poem Heaney describes him self as being very close to the deceased, playing the part of the pallbearer, he uses here a double entendre as he "shoulders a kind of manhood" as he is only a child. As in "The Tollund Man" and "The Grauballe Man" Heaney begins with a vivid description of the body with its "dough white hands" and "igloo brows". Heaney uses phrases such as the black glacier of each funeral pushed away" to demonstrate how darkness is synonymous with death. ...read more.

Conclusion

In the second section Heaney moves on from this particular case to the general brutality in the Ireland conflict. He uses phrases such as "coffin after coffin" and "common funeral" to demonstrate how, tragically, death and violence have become an accepted part of life. Heaney then goes back to the solemn story of the man from the bar, who was simply carrying out his usual routine. He did not think he should be confined to his home for someone else's evils. This shows how the killings were not discriminate and he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Heaney then goes on to say how he did not attend the funeral, but instead reminisces on his times spent with the man. Heaney seems to find falsehood in funerals, and would prefer to sit in isolation and think back to the time when he "tasted freedom with him". Now the man is free and has no longer to face the arduous tasks of life, or the cruelty of man. Throughout Heaney's poems he expresses his distaste of mans cruelty towards their own species. Heaney expresses his views on the futility of violence with inspiring confidence. In each of his poems he manages to use many different literary devices and provokes thought and emotion in the reader. His language is poignant and yet not aggressive and at the same time he is presenting a very valid set of arguments. ...read more.

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