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"Both Seamus Heaney and Carol Anne Duffy explore childhood in their poems - What do they say about it and how effectively do they get their ideas across?"

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Introduction

English Coursework Rachael Ballamy Seamus Heaney and Carol Anne Duffy "Both Seamus Heaney and Carol Anne Duffy explore childhood in their poems. What do they say about it and how effectively do they get their ideas across?" Heaney and Duffy's poems are very much about childhood and growing up, yet they are both very different. Duffy's poems show her relationships with people, so does Heaney's but some of Heaney's poems are more about serious issues e.g. the poem "Mid-Term Break". Many of Heaney's poems were written from past experiences; he grew up on a farm and many of his poems are about life on a farm, or similar surroundings e.g. "The Barn" and "Digging". The similarities of the two poets are that they both relate to past experiences, and in most of their poems, we can regard the speaker or voice being the poet himself/herself. Their childhood memories are quite different. Duffy's are much more about school and family, whereas Heaney's are more about his experiences on the farm. He describes the way he admires and values his father's skill in "Digging" and he looks at the unsentimental way in which animals were treated on farms in "The Early Purges". ...read more.

Middle

With the technical vocabulary of farming mentioned in Heaney's poems, it gives the reader a sense of reality, and shows us that this is his world, "Between the shafts and the furrow" and "My father worked with a horse-plough". Both Heaney and Duffy use real place names, to again make the poems more real to us. Heaney uses "Toner's Bog" and Duffy uses "Portobello" near Glasgow. They both use peoples names: Heaney: "Dan Taggart", Duffy: "Mrs Hunt, Mrs Emery". By using these names it recreates a real and familiar world for us. We see middle class appreciation of the 1950's in Duffy's poems with "Pyrex" and "the lounge". She recreates these words to give a sense of familiarity and reality to her readers. Her poem "Litany" recreated song titles, names of groups, and toys. She recreates words that are not used anymore such as "Rhodesia", "florins". I think she uses these words to stress what is missing from the past. These unused words however are from a lost world that Duffy rejects, as the persona created in "The Captain of the 1964 top of the forum team" (where these words are used), is very distant from Duffy herself, so the character is very much the opposite of hers. ...read more.

Conclusion

There are strong links between the past and the present in all the poems, the past may be a source of inspiration and a means of finding one's identity, but there is the danger of valuing the past too much over the present. In Duffy's poems she shows intense love and admiration for her mother, but she rejects the restrictive conservatism of her middle class life. She thinks warmly of her teacher and is excited about her childhood experiences, but presents adolescence as a time of even more excitement. Heaney shows great love for his family and defines his role in life as a poet in terms of continuing on the craft of his family of past generations. He is strong in rejecting violent attitudes impressed on so many people in Northern Ireland. He values his childhood experiences, which profoundly influence him, and ultimately embraces all of his experiences, good or ill. Overall, I think that the poems that I have studied put across their points strongly and powerfully. The poets' childhood views are remembered so vividly which project a clear view of their lives. In all their poems they stress the difficulties and pleasures of life. They get their ideas across by using language effectively and by producing vivid images for us to picture and recognise. ...read more.

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