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Compare 'A difficult birth and 'At a potato digging'

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Introduction

A difficult Birth, Easter 1998/At a potato digging Both poems share the common theme of linking events together. A difficult birth relates to the incidents of the birth of a lamb and the Northern Ireland peace process, it also ties in the theme of Easter and the resurrection of Jesus. At a potato digging relates the incident of a modern day potato digging back to the Irish struggle and mainly, the Irish potato famine. A difficult birth relates two incidents that are happening at the same time- the birth of a lamb and the talks between Irish politicians. At a potato digging, however, relates the events of a modern day potato digging and the Irish famine, which happened over one hundred and fifty years ago. Both poems have sub-themes that tie in with their common theme. A difficult birth has the common theme of good coming from bad, or new beginnings. It does so by describing the events of the birth of lamb. In this birth the ewe suffers extreme pain and at times it seems doubtful either will survive, but in the end two healthy lambs are born, due to the gentle deliverance of the poet. ...read more.

Middle

Yeats that records the event as the first part of a heroic struggle. Yeats writes, in the chorus, that "a terrible beauty is born". And "peaceful, at a cradling" suggests images of human mothers and children, perhaps even the nativity at Bethlehem. In this poem, Gillian Clarke relates two of her greatest concerns - a love of the natural world around her and the political processes that bring war or peace to the world. Both poets relate their own personal experience to wider events, both events memorable to the poet, but only the wider event memorable to the rest of the world. In At a potato digging, in presenting the main subject, the "Potato Digging" of the title, Heaney makes two excursions - to inspect the wonderful potato in close-up, and to recall the terrible history with which it will always be associated in Irish memory. This poem has a more complex structure, with more stanzas, each stanza differing from the previous. This formal structure gives the impression of the At the same time, at the end of each stanza, the audience is prepared for the next. ...read more.

Conclusion

Gillian Clarke, on the other hand, evidently enjoys both writing and her job as a farmer. Where Seamus Heaney describes the struggles had by the Irish farmers of the past and now (the trouble potato farming has caused them), Gillian Clarke is happy to slip her hands inside a ewe as it gives birth. Throughout the poem Heaney's language changes, suggesting his viewpoint towards the potato does to. Heaney describes how the potato is now and how it was during the famine. Also his description of the earth differs, describing it as being worshipped and life giving to being a "bitch earth". Clarke doesn't differ her language as much, focusing the poem more on the sequence of events as more happens within Clarke's poem. Heaney's poem concentrates on two main themes, the potato and the Irish struggle with it, past and present. Whereas Clarke pulls in many themes to the birth of the lambs all relating to good coming from bad and how gentle methods get you there in the end. Clarke's poem has a moral at the end, it is like a fable or parable. Heaney's poem too conveys a sense of cohesion, the workers getting their fill at the end, but it is more thought provoking and through an amazing use of language conveys many innuendos all relating to the Irish struggle. ...read more.

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