• 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. Marked by a teacher

    English Literature Coursework - Nostalgia

    5 star(s)

    into a more cheerful one where the speaker describes her father's actions with gusto. I felt better at the culmination of the poem because it ends on a very positive note. In Crabbit Old Woman, the mood of the poem shows slight anger when she uses an imperative tone and

  2. Marked by a teacher

    Compare and contrast the ways in which war is presented in 'The Charge Of ...

    4 star(s)

    The tone in this poem is very solemn and sounds like a narrator is telling the story. It is written with a solemn words referring to South African terms or words to show that the war was in South Africa.

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

    In the second last stanza of the poem, the poet talks about the reaction of the rest of the universe [the positive forces] to the creation and introduction of such a being and the reaction of the creator himself. The stars and the lamb are used to represent all the

  2. Nature Poetry - After Apple Picking

    The poem is rich in end-rhymes but it has no regular arrangement. The length of each line also varies from long to short. The slow tempo and cadence suggests the recurrent labour has dissipated all of his energy. Both the tempo and rhythm are manipulated and varied with subtlety by the poet.

  1. Compare and contrast Keat's 'To Autumn' and Vernon Scannell's 'Autumn'

    The fume of poppies and the mid-day sun emphasises the drowsiness. Furthermore, both poets vary the length of their lines to create audible effect and interest: Keats enjoys autumns due to it's intense and plentiful beauty. While the season lives, he to lets it affect him as strongly as possible.

  2. 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.

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

    Our society is widely conservative and desexualizes children, but that's not necessarily true. Therefore this poem is a good representation of how children do interpret sex. The poem shows a scenario for female empowerment which I believe Mora projects onto a young girl to symbolize hope for the next generation.

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

    The fifth stanza deals with his problems with his native language, as does the seventh. He says that he "inherited unknowingly the curse that damned", or the polish language. The negative use of the words "curse" and "damned" show his further alienation from his culture through language.

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