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Ancestral Photograph - Seamus Heaney.

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  • Essay length: 939 words
  • Submitted: 24/10/2003
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GCSE Seamus Heaney

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Ancestral Photograph - Seamus Heaney

1. The poet, Seamus Heaney, is describing his great-uncle from an old photograph that has been on the wall for decades. He is in a pensive mood, thinking about his family's history and his own involvement in it.

2. The picture created of the man is not an attractive one. The opening sentence to the poem, "Jaws puff round and solid as a turnip" makes it seem as if the face is completely smooth, without any interesting features - just like a "turnip". "Jaws puff round" gives the reader an impression that the great-uncle's face is bloated and flabby. The next sentence in the first stanza, "Dead eyes are statue's" suggests that the man is lifeless and that he has a blank expression on his face. The reader also gets the impression that Seamus Heaney's great-uncle is rather unpleasant from the words: "the upper lip bullies the heavy mouth down to a droop". "Droop" might suggest that he is possibly unhappy. The next line: "Whose look has two parts scorn, two parts dead pan" further confirms that the man in the photograph is disagreeable with a vacant look. The last line of

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