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AS and A Level: Seamus Heaney
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Seamus Heaney's biography
- 1 He is a Northern Irish poet and playwright. He was born in 1939.
- 2 He is the eldest of nine children and was brought up on a farm.
- 3 His childhood provides material for a great deal of his poetry.
- 4 The Troubles (ie: the conflict in Northern Ireland) are also alluded to in his poetry.
- 5 He won the Nobel Prize for Literature and his books account for two thirds of sales of living poets in the UK.
Heaney's ideas and expression
- 1 A lot of Heaney's poems are autobiographical and he draws upon the experiences of his childhood.
- 2 He describes the local surroundings in his poems and the natural world. Heaney often uses specialist farming lexis to give his poems greater authenticity.
- 3 Mid-Term Break describes the death of his four year old brother and The Barn shows how terrified he was of the dark barn with its weapon like tools.
- 4 An important theme is his father and the respect and admiration he has for him this can be seen in both the Follower and Digging.
- 5 He uses descriptive imagery and evokes the senses. Although he uses free verse at times the power of Heaney’s poetry lies in rhythm created by alliteration, enjambment and repetition.
Top tips for writing essays on poetry
- 1 Embed quotations to show understanding and knowledge of poems.
- 2 Refer to the essay question in conclusion, introduction and topic sentences.
- 3 Use poetry terminology to show understanding of the techniques Seamus used in creating the poem.
- 4 Avoid describing the content - analyse the poem.
- 5 When comparing and contrasting two or more poems use the language of comparison and similarly discuss the similarities and differences of the poems.
- Peer Reviewed essays 5
Follower is a poem written by the renowned poet Seamus Heaney. The poem relates back to Heaneys past memories which he had experienced when he was at a younger age.4 star(s)
He would set the wing and fit the bright steel - pointed sock'. For a substantial amount of the poem, Heaney devotes his time to praising his father. Through this entire appraisal, the young Heaney becomes more attached to his father, making their relationship stronger. The father is, more than anything else, a skilled and energetic farmer. He is the source of admiration for Heaney for which he praises him in a physical and metaphorical standpoint. In the physical standpoint, his father's strength and fortitude are described effectively by the use of a simile.
- Word count: 727
Then Kinsella's dreams are shattered, as a kind of axe breaks the bond between these two trees. As this axe shatters the tree it also shatters the dreams of Kinsella: "A wooden stroke: Iron sinks in the gasping core. I will dream it again." Wormwood was one of Kinsella's poems which he wrote during the twentieth century, but was it all about the bonding of a tree, and how in was destroyed bitterly by an axe?
- Word count: 830
Explore how Heaney writes about childhood experiences in Death of a Naturalist and in one other poem of your choice. In your Response you should include discussion of the following:4 star(s)
There is also a sense of exploration in which is consistent with the idea of learning inevitable leading to discovery and troubled awareness of experience. In the second section everything changes and the world is now a threatenting place, full of ugliness and meance. There is still a strong emphasis on decay and putrefaction, but now its not balanced by images suggesting profusion of life. Similar to the Death of a Naturalist, Blackberry picking begins with the description of the season.
- Word count: 763
But in the second stanza it changes, the tone of the stanza is less happy; it is serious and uses many negative phrases 'Then one hot day when fields were rank' (line 22) 'Right down the dam gross - bellied frogs were cocked' (line 27) And also fearful is the tone 'I knew that if I dipped my hand the spwan would clutch it' (line33) He shows he now no longer likes nature 'I sickened, turned and ran' (line31) that is the change.
- Word count: 1306
Analyse how Seamus Heaney uses language to convey his childhood experiences to the reader in his poems3 star(s)
Whereas in the second verse he sees the frogs in a different way. He does not enjoy collecting the frogspawn any more. He seems to be afraid and almost disgusted by the frogs. He describes them as "the great slime kings" which perhaps shows that he is revolted by the frogs where once he was comfortable with them. Also in "Blackberry Picking" the poet's attitude changes between the verses. In the first verse the poet is enthusiastic and goes about picking blackberries with childlike enthusiasm.
- Word count: 2781