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The Tollund Man

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Becki Lee The Tollund Man Coursework The Tollund Man is one of Europe's best-known bog bodies. He was found, alongside The Grauballe Man in the early 1950s. Bog bodies recovered from the past are quite wide spread throughout Northern Europe, especially in Denmark, Germany and Ireland. The peat perfectly preserves the bodies due to anaerobic conditions, although the bodies are found blackened, their fingertips, hair and clothing are all still intact. Seamus Heaney uses the bog bodies in his poetry to "uncover, in their meditations, a history of Ireland's conquest, first by Viking's and later by the English". 'Tollund Man' opens quietly and effectively like Glob's initial description, "an evocative and poetic prose", and it is mirrored by the structure of quatrains which is divided into three sections. The first verse is mostly monosyllabic, 'some day I will...to see his peat...' making the words sound hard, which sets the scene as it is a serious subject. There is also no repetition of vowels or consonants which shows a lack in fluency. ...read more.


This is why The Tollund Man's burial and preservation is described in sexual terms, 'open her fen'. 'Those dark juices working/Him to a saint's kept body' describes how the bog preserves the body perfectly. Also, it suggests The Tollund Man is like a saint as in the Catholic religion, saints bodies are said not to decay. 'I could risk blasphemy...our holy ground' shows The Tollund Man's power over Heaney, "he can compel a 'religious' reaction outside the norms of any conventional piety" and it suggests that Heaney wants there to be a different religion, and sees the bog as a holy place, an example of this is that Heaney by making the bog a new deity and worshipping that, people would then unite and sow the seeds for peace, 'and pray/Him to make germinate'. Furthermore, it suggests that "he may make these recent dead 'germinate' again, as his original killers hoped he would make their next season's crops germinate". 'Trove of the turf cutters' incorporates alliteration on the t's which evokes sharp images of turf being cut. ...read more.


"Not knowing the 'tongue' of the country you travel in is the deepest kind of estrangement". 'Out there in Jutland/In the old man- killing parishes/I will feel lost/Unhappy and at home'. Here, Heaney is trying to empathise with the man. He knows that if he visited the scene of the sacrificial killings he would be able to recognise the same vengeful practices that violate his own society. "People will point at him as they once did at the Tollund Man but the poet will be separated from them by his ignorance of their language". Seamus Heaney wrote this poem to show that human nature has not become more civilised with time, we still seek revenge for betrayal, and kill in the name of religion. By writing, he explores the past, and uses it to try to understand the present, for example he uses 'bog bodies' to explore Irish conflicts as he reviews the past to understand the future. Heaney's work is rooted in Northern Irish rural life. Reflections on his childhood have given way to darker commentaries on the social and political problems in Northern Ireland. ...read more.

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