• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Critical Analysis of The Forge by Seamus Heaney

Extracts from this document...


Critical Analysis of The Forge by Seamus Heaney 'The Forge' is a sonnet with a clear division into an octave (the first eight lines) and a sestet (the final six lines). While the octave, apart from its initial reference to the narrator, focuses solely on the inanimate objects and occurrences inside and outside the forge, the sestet describes the blacksmith himself, and what he does. Interestingly, the transition from the octave to the sestet is a run-on or enjambment containing one of the key metaphors of the poem, the anvil as altar: Set there immovable: an altar Where he expends himself in shape and music. One effect of this is to enable us to experience the anvil or altar as a magical point of transition between the material and immovable world of objects and the fluid, musical world of human consciousness. The rhyme scheme of the sonnet is: abba cddc efgfef, a departure from the standard Shakespearean (abab cdcd efef gg) or Petrarchan (abba abba cde cde) ...read more.


In line 4 and line 12 Heaney uses two pairs of short syllables to emphasise the vivacity and movement of the unpredictable fantail of sparks and the road where the traffic is flashing in rows. Another feature is the combination of repeated long syllables with assonance, as in new shoe (line 5) and beat real iron out line 14; in both cases the regularity of the rhythm and uniformity of the sound could be said to highlight the harmonious form of the blacksmith's products. A further metrical feature can be seen in the transition from the octave to the sestet. The final line of the octave is the shortest of the poem, with only nine syllables, thus both emphasising the final word altar, and creating a certain rhythmical tension which is relieved in the first line of the sestet, which is a highly regular and fluent iambic pentameter. ...read more.


The dark interior of the forge as a whole symbolises the obscure depths of the poet's experience, while the new shoe which toughens in water symbolises the way in which the poet's words are the solid crystallisation of those depths. Likewise, the anvil, being at the centre of the forge, perhaps represents the mythical (it is compared to a unicorn) core of the poet's experience. When struck by the hammer (perhaps symbolising a quick flash of insight), the anvil emits a sound (a short-pitched ring) and an unpredictable fantail of sparks, which again may symbolise the unpredictable yet beautiful, spoken or written words of the poem. We may thus make sense of the metaphor of the anvil as altar, as comparing the poet's devotion to the creation of a poem to religious worship or prayer. The exterior of the forge may symbolise the mundane, unpoetic world of modern life (the trafficflashing in rows), which the blacksmith/poet seems to scorn in favour of the remembered past (recalls a clatter of hoofs) and the supposedly more real activity of beating iron, i.e. poetic activity. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Miscellaneous section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

5 star(s)

The triumph of this analysis is that, after systematically examining the elements of this poem, the writer is able to draw them together again in one final proposition that links the sounds and sights of the forge, the mythical/religious themes and the process of poetic creation itself.

Sentence and paragraph construction are effectively managed thoughout, with one exception. However, there is a strange omission of suitable marking of quotations which makes reading the essay a little difficult in parts. This may have arisen in the process of transferring the essay into its current form; for instance, the quotations may have been in italics that have reverted to standard font.

Overall, this is a very successful essay.

5 stars

Marked by teacher Jeff Taylor 10/10/2013

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Miscellaneous essays

  1. The Horses - Ted Hughes line analysis

    This now creates an irony (capability and incapability). Contrasts poet with the horses. With draped manes and tilted hind -hooves Making no sound The hind hooves are tilted so that they don't feel the chill.

  2. Critical Analysis of "The Tyger" by William Blake

    positive things in the world where as the tiger symbolizes all the negativities. The stars have realized that by the creation of the tiger, violence, cruelty, destruction, bloodshed along with danger has been let loose in the universe and harm the innocent.

  1. Analysis of Analysis of Pat Mora(TM)s La Migra

    The phrase, "Oh, I am not alone" (30) shows the solidarity the girl is already beginning to conceptualize in her female elders.

  2. Dover Beach Analysis

    With the words such as sound "listen", "hear" and "roar" in line nine The verbs "begin" "cease" and "again begin" is metaphor that this world is never ending.

  1. A comparison between "I know why the caged bird sings" by Maya Angelou and ...

    In the first stanza she is writing about where she was born and how she grew up, she says "i was born in Congo" this could mean was bought up in Congo and was born there, Also the first three lines all Start with "I" this is very repetitive, Nikki

  2. Peter Skrzynecki explores various aspects of belonging and not belonging in his poems ancestors, ...

    Assimilation in a way "pulled down" the culture of the migrants and gave them a "key" or opportunity to a life that is meaningless. The result of this is that the children of migrants live in "house" that is half pulled down, they remember "remnants" of their parents culture (as

  1. Commentary on The old familiar Faces by Charles Lamb

    that he has had a rather average childhood and also a very dear friend that he abandoned voluntarily, he feels that he was meant for this tragic fate. However, he is still "seeking the old familiar faces" suggesting that right now he is deep in memories, detached from reality and completely engulfed by his sorrow.

  2. Poetry Comparison - In both great-grandfather, and on the verge the writers present an ...

    to death, or ?the verge?, it could also be metaphoric for the old person?s death. In contrast to this is the rhyming structure of ?great-grandfather? which is irregular with the first, third and fourth containing rhyme, and the rest containing no rhyme.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work