• 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...

Introduction

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.

Middle

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.

Conclusion

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

    compare the way love is presented in 'valentine' and 'sonnet130'

    4 star(s)

    By using the word 'platinum' which is very precious she is making the onion seem much more valuable than it is. 'If you like' then changes the tone of the poem as she is giving her lover a choice whereas in the first line she was ordering him.

  2. 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.

  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. Mid Term Break - Poem analysis

    In the next stanza, he calls the place where his brother is "the room". He doesn't associate it as being part of the house.

  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. Dover Beach Analysis

    After line seven the calmly mood of the first lines is changing into a sad mood. The word sea is personified when he uses the verb "meets" in line seven. The personification and the expression "moon-blanched land" create a spiritual atmosphere.

  1. Nineteenth Century Short Stories A short story should stimulate the imagination and hold ...

    If he really loved her he would be willing to wait until she was ready. This results in Dorothea eventually wanting nothing to do with Randall. The way the mood changes means the pathos is evoked towards the husband as the reader sees how he has been punished too severely for something that is not even his fault.

  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