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A critical essay on Seamus Heany(TM)s Punishment

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Introduction

A critical essay on Seamus Heany's Punishment Written by Nagy Zsolt MA English Punishment I can feel the tug of the halter at the nape of her neck, the wind on her naked front. It blows her nipples to amber beads, it shakes the frail rigging of her ribs. I can see her drowned body in the bog, the weighing stone, the floating rods and boughs. Under which at first she was a barked sapling that is dug up oak-bone, brain-firkin: her shaved head like a stubble of black corn, her blindfold a soiled bandage, her noose a ring to store the memories of love. Little adultress, before they punished you you were flaxen-haired, undernourished, and your tar-black face was beautiful. My poor scapegoat, I almost love you but would have cast, I know, the stones of silence. I am the artful voyeur of your brain's exposed and darkened combs, your muscles' webbing and all your numbered bones: I who have stood dumb when your betraying sisters, cauled in tar, wept by the railings, who would connive in civilized outrage yet understand the exact and tribal, intimate revenge. ...read more.

Middle

It can be a victim of a recent murder or even a victim of a ritual ceremony - from two thousand years ago. This made Heaney discover his countryside not only horizontally, but vertically as well. The mystic depth of the bog is a new dimension - which is a window on the past. In his poem "Punishment" a young woman is the victim whose body ends in the bog. Her sin was adultery, the reprisal, according to the laws of that time, is death - after humiliation. Her head was close shaved then hanged up her and the corpse was sank in the bog, like in an ancestral ritual human sacrifice. In the beginning of the poem Heany presents as a narrator and shows us the body of the young woman. In this part of the poem Heaney seems to identify himself with the girl - he describes her situation as he would be experienced with the rope around his neck. This experience moves him away from the position of the narrator who just reports from an 'execution'. ...read more.

Conclusion

Heaney is a voyeur of not only her body but her mind, too. At the end of the poem with the line "betraying sisters" he refers to those present days of Northern Ireland, when the girls dating with British soldiers got the punishment of shaved head and "cauled in tar". Heaney's point of view of the whole situation is rather complex. As a catholic from the North he "would connive / in civilized outrage / yet understand the exact / and tribal, intimate revenge." Some might think that Heaney's understanding this act means that he can accept it but the painful presence of violence subverts every explanation effort. Seamus Heany in his poem called Punishment describes a woman, who is being tortured and killed because of adultery she committed. In the poem he feels sorry for the girl but like everybody else he sinned her before. Heany 's point of view shows sympathy towards the act of punishment and either he receives the other end of the punishment by describing the pain. Readings Dolm�nyos P�ter: M�ltba temetett jelen: Seamus Heaney l�p-versei. = Nagyvil�g. 44. 1999. 9-10. 812-819. http://www.c3.hu/scripta/nagyvilag/99/0910/22dolm.htm http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/punishment/comments.asp http://www.lorenwebster.net/In_a_Dark_Time/category/poets/seamus-heaney/ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywQ6UugAXIE http://www.steventagle.com/SPRENG160E01Punishment.pdf ?? ?? ?? ?? 2 ...read more.

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