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Seamus Heaney.

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Introduction

Seamus Heaney Heaney was born on April 13, 1939, the eldest of nine children, to Margaret and Patrick Heaney, at the family farm, Mossbawn, about 30 miles northwest of Belfast in County Derry. He attended the local school at Anahorish until 1957, when he enrolled at Queen's College, Belfast and took a first in English there in 1961. The next school year he took a teacher's certificate in English at St. Joseph's College in Belfast. In 1963 he took a position as a lecturer in English at the same school. While at St. Joseph's he began to write, publishing work in the university magazines under the pseudonym Incertus. During that time, along with Derek Mahon, Michael Longley, and others, he joined a poetry workshop under the guidance of Philip Hobsbaum. In 1965, in connection with the Belfast Festival, he published Eleven Poems. In August of 1965 he married Marie Devlin. The following year he became a lecturer in modern English literature at Queen's College, Belfast, his first son Michael was born, and Faber and Faber published Death of a Naturalist. This volume earned him the E.C. Gregory Award, the Cholmondeley Award in 1967, the Somerset Maugham Award in 1968, and the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, also in 1968. Christopher, his second son, was born in 1968. His second volume, Door into the Dark, was published in 1969 and became the Poetry Book Society Choice for the year. In 1970-71 he was a guest lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley. He returned to Northern Ireland in 1971, and in 1972 he resigned his lecturship at Queens College, moved his family to Glanmore, in County Wicklow, and published Wintering Out. In 1973 his daughter, Catherine Ann, was born. During this year he also received the Denis Devlin Award and the Writer in Residence Award from the American Irish Foundation. In 1975 North was published, winning the E.M. ...read more.

Middle

Hardy's communion with the frightened sheep holds the anticipated sorrow that would later fill his poetry at bay for a moment. Again, the nearness of death, or, for Hardy, the pretending to be dead, is an essential component, if not the ultimate font, of poetry. The final poem here ends on a life-affirming note, for Heaney recognizes the beauty of earthly existence, placing that beauty in a religious context that not only enhances it, but holds out hope for more wonders to come after death. Heaney's work is filled with images of death and dying, and yet it is also firmly rooted in the life of this world. His tender elegies about friends and family members who have died serve many purposes: they mourn great losses, celebrate those who have gone before us, and recall the solace that remains to us, our memories. When asked recently about his abiding interest in memorializing the people of his life, he replied, "The elegaic Heaney? There's nothing else." Joe Pellegrino Seamus Heaney Heaney was born on April 13, 1939, the eldest of nine children, to Margaret and Patrick Heaney, at the family farm, Mossbawn, about 30 miles northwest of Belfast in County Derry. He attended the local school at Anahorish until 1957, when he enrolled at Queen's College, Belfast and took a first in English there in 1961. The next school year he took a teacher's certificate in English at St. Joseph's College in Belfast. In 1963 he took a position as a lecturer in English at the same school. While at St. Joseph's he began to write, publishing work in the university magazines under the pseudonym Incertus. During that time, along with Derek Mahon, Michael Longley, and others, he joined a poetry workshop under the guidance of Philip Hobsbaum. In 1965, in connection with the Belfast Festival, he published Eleven Poems. In August of 1965 he married Marie Devlin. ...read more.

Conclusion

We are all inevitably relased from both the weight and the shield of our ancestors. This lightening, when we are finally exposed to the elements, to the cosmos, is both freeing and frightening. The first poem acknowledges the transience of life, framing death in the religious terms of the particular and universal judgements that come at the end of an individual life and the end of the world. Recognition of the fact that "there is no next-time-round" carries with it a mixture of fear and freedom. Heaney discusses that mixture again in the Hardy lyrics, and explores the questions that the nearness of death brings. Hardy pretends to be dead in "vi," and, being dead, "He experimented with infinity." He claims that the recognition of death is a necessary act for a poet, for it alone opens the poet up to what the universe has to say. In "vii" Heaney admits to the frailty of memory, a fragility that makes what is remembered all the more dear. Hardy's communion with the frightened sheep holds the anticipated sorrow that would later fill his poetry at bay for a moment. Again, the nearness of death, or, for Hardy, the pretending to be dead, is an essential component, if not the ultimate font, of poetry. The final poem here ends on a life-affirming note, for Heaney recognizes the beauty of earthly existence, placing that beauty in a religious context that not only enhances it, but holds out hope for more wonders to come after death. Heaney's work is filled with images of death and dying, and yet it is also firmly rooted in the life of this world. His tender elegies about friends and family members who have died serve many purposes: they mourn great losses, celebrate those who have gone before us, and recall the solace that remains to us, our memories. When asked recently about his abiding interest in memorializing the people of his life, he replied, "The elegaic Heaney? There's nothing else." Joe Pellegrino ...read more.

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