Page
  1. 1
    1
  2. 2
    2
  3. 3
    3
  4. 4
    4
  5. 5
    5

Drawing examples from a range of poems discuss Heaney's treatment of what he has called History, Memory and Attachemetns.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

MEGAN MCCLUSKIE ADVANCED HIGHER ENGLISH DRAWING EXAMPLES FROM A RANGE OF POEMS DISCUSS HEANEY'S TREATMENT OF WHAT HE HAS CALLED "HISTORY, MEMORY AND ATTACHMENTS." The Irish poet Seamus Heaney has written many poems focusing on the history of Ireland and his own personal memories. In these poems Heaney looks closely at the problem of sectarianism and violence in Ireland during 'Digging' is one of Heaney's poems, written at a time when his poetry was more concerned with the personal - his relationships to his family and the rural world in which he was born. In the poem Heaney memorialises the cycles of manual labour on his family's farm - digging up potatoes and cutting turf on the bog. On one level this seems hardly the material that might engage a poet, but in celebrating the familial and the local, Heaney is drawing attention to the significance of ordinary people on the land as well as attempting to find his place in the world and the very nature of this relationship to that world. Thus, I believe that It is fair to say that this poem clearly demonstrates Heaney's treatment of what he has called "history, memory and attachments. 'Digging' is centrally concerned with the alienation felt by Heaney and the need to negotiate the distance between origins and the present circumstances. ...read more.

Middle

This is exactly what the speaker has in mind when he says that he will 'dig with it'. The choice of words are of great importance in poetry as they create connotations that set up a subtext to a poem, an underlying set of meanings or metaphorical relations. This is often achieved through setting up new correspondences between words, often incongruous. In the second line the adjective 'squat' is connected to pen. 'Squat' has the duel meanings of bending the body closer to the ground and to settle a piece of land, usually without permission. In this second sense the word suggests that the pen is out of place in this environment. The Heaneyr's father has a spade in his hand which is more fitting to life on a farm while his son has a pen. It is this very incongruity that makes the speaker feel alienated in his old home. He is no longer part of the tradition of the land, but has acquired the more leisurely status of writer, and it is this very dilemma that he is exploring in the poem. The physical action of squatting also has more to do with his father than him - bending his back out in the fields - than the son who sits comfortably observing others work. This difference also echoes throughout the poem, showing how the son's art - his pen - has caused this distance between them. ...read more.

Conclusion

The Bog poems ('Punishment', 'The Tollund Man'), based on the bodies recovered in the peat of Jutland, are concerned with ancient sacrificial killings that Heaney compares to the contemporary situation in Ireland, and the other major area of his work explores the religious prohibitions on sex that are the cause of children being killed or hidden away ('Limbo' and 'Bye Child') so that the female is not judged by society. 'Casualty' explores the question of the aftermath of the Bloody Sunday killings (January 1972). The central figure presented in the poem is Louis O'Neill, a Catholic fisherman who was a neighbour and acquiantance of Heaney. O'Neill was 'blown to bits' in an IRA pub bombing, carried out in reprisal for Bloody Sunday. Heaney's poems range from the more personal poems about his upbringing and the significance of the ordinary life on the land ('Digging'), to those that explore the social injustices, and violent history of his country. The sectarian violence takes centre place in his work and he sometimes addresses specific revenge killings ('Casualty', 'The Strand at Lough Beg'). The Bog poems ('Punishment', 'The Tollund Man'), based on the bodies recovered in the peat of Jutland, are concerned with ancient sacrificial killings that Heaney compares to the contemporary situation in Ireland, and the other major area of his work explores the religious prohibitions on sex that are the cause of children being killed or hidden away ('Limbo' and 'Bye Child') so that the female is not judged by society. ...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 Seamus Heaney 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 Seamus Heaney essays

  1. The Tollund Man

    'Tollund, Grauballe, nebelgard' are other bog bodies that have been discovered perfectly preserved. This adds to the idea that Heaney is fascinated with bog bodies. 'Watching the pointing hands/Of country people', Heaney is imagining that he is there with The Tollund Man and what the crowd's reactions as the tumbril drove past them would be.

  2. What influence of history can be seen in Seamus Heaney's work?

    it is 'bog' not dry grass, that drys up or 'keeps crusting' each time the sun rises. Out of this bog, or 'peat' is 'taken the skeleton/ Of the Great Irish Elk', a huge mammoth the ribcage 'An astounding crate full of air', like a large container for packing goods.

  1. Seamus Heaney.

    And yet, what is important is not placing blame, but the recognition of what remains to those who live, memories and sadness. It is easy to get the impression that Heaney is a provincial poet, concerned only with the happenings of his island and his memory.

  2. Explore Heaney's Presentation Of The Irish Conflict In, "Whatever You Say, Say Nothing"

    The words are unexpected and sharp, to shock the reader into seeing the true nature of the Irish conflict, which is what the journalists have not done. Snippets of newspaper reports are given in the fourth stanza, such as, "long standing hate".

  1. 'From our study in the "Clearances" collection, what is revealed about Seamus Heaney and ...

    The fact that Heaney feels a 'space' after she dies is also a key suggestion to the closeness of their relationship, that the woman he has loved and adored has left him and he feels emptiness, as if nothing can replace her, showing how highly Heaney thought of his mother.

  2. Peer reviewed

    Analyse how Seamus Heaney uses language to convey his childhood experiences to the reader ...

    3 star(s)

    the reader's enthusiasm "runs on" like the run on sentence, The childlike voice in "Death of a Naturalist" is similar to the childlike voice in "Blackberry Picking". In both they use run on lines to show the child's excitement and enthusiasm.

  1. With close reference to at least two poems, discuss Seamus Heaney's presentation of his ...

    In 'Death of a Naturalist' there is the voice of Heaney's schoolteacher as she explains about frogs and their spawn, "Miss Walls would tell us how the daddy frog was called a bull frog..." And in 'The Early Purges' there is the voice of Dan Taggart who; in a way

  2. The poem Digging by Seamus Heaney explores themes of identity, ability and family relationships ...

    highlighting that he has broken the chain of tradition in his decision to become a writer. Simile is a literary device utilised by Heaney to explore the theme of identity and individuality. In the first stanza, the speakerâs pen rests âas snug as a gunâ (line 2) in his hand.

  • Over 180,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work

Marked by a teacher

This essay has been marked by one of our great teachers. You can read the full teachers notes when you download the essay.

Peer reviewed

This essay has been reviewed by one of our specialist student essay reviewing squad. Read the full review on the essay page.

Peer reviewed

This essay has been reviewed by one of our specialist student essay reviewing squad. Read the full review under the essay preview on this page.