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

Discusssome of the ways in which Seamus Heaney makes use of the past in his poetry

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Discuss some of the ways in which Seamus Heaney makes use of the past in his poetry Seamus Heaney was born on 13th April 1939 on a farm called Mossbawn in Northern Ireland. He was the eldest of nine children, and was brought up as a Roman Catholic, which later, proved to be a popular topic in his poetry. Heaney's childhood was full of deaths from relatives and friends which give him a certain amount of understanding about death and corpses, a poem that shows this is 'The Tollund Man'. In his poetry, Seamus Heaney usually starts in the past tense, imagining that he is still in his childhood, and then suddenly, towards the end of the poem, turns to the present tense, and reflects how his childhood memories have affected him as an adult. 'Digging' is a perfect example of Heaney returning to his origins. Heaney evokes the rural landscape where he was raised and shows the care and skill of how his Father and ancestors farmed the land 'My father, digging'. In the poem there are many monosyllabic words such as 'bog', 'sods' and 'curt cuts', which is also alliteration and assonance. ...read more.

Middle

The way the teacher described how frogs reproduced is very patronizing, 'The daddy frog was called a bullfrog/And how he croaked...the mammy frog had hundreds of little eggs...this was frogspawn'. The teacher personifies the frogs by making it easier for the children to relate to them. However, this nice and simple version puts false images in the young Heaney's head, so when in the second stanza he sees the frogs in their natural habitat, he is unprepared. You can tell from his choice of wording that he is disgusted, 'rank', 'gross-bellied', 'cocked on sods', 'blunt heads farting' and 'slime kings' by using a lot of monosyllabic words which sound harsh and he uses many sensory images that make us imagine we are there with him. Neil Corcoran says that "The sheer noise Heaney manages to make out of English vowels is remarkable-a dissonant cacophony". Philip Holsbawn says "Heaney speaks...the snap, crackle and pop of diction". Heaney believes that the frogs wanted revenge for putting the 'jellied specks' on his 'window-sills at home' by saying 'I knew that if I dipped my hand the spawn would clutch it'. The poem is a story about the life cycle of frogs and the end of innocence. ...read more.

Conclusion

'She was a barked sappling' is a metaphor and 'oak-bone, brain-firkin' makes her body look like an old tree after coming out of the bog, and shows that she has organic qualities. 'Would have cast, I know, the stones of silence' is a biblical reference, "Let him who has no sin cast the first stone" -Jesus. 'Your muscles' webbing and all your numbered bones' is a very graphic image. 'Numbered bones' can also be linked with the Bible "They have numbered all my bones" -Jesus. And in the Roman Catholic religion they are used in worship. The windeby girl's punishment was tar and feathers 'tar-black face' for 'going with' British soldiers. The last stanza 'connived in civilised outrage, yet understand the exact and tribal, ultimate revenge' reveals that on the outside, Heaney would show shock and horror, but on the inside he would understand why they had to do it. On the whole, Seamus Heaney uses the past and his childhood in many of his poems to be able to see them in a different light and be able to understand different memories with maturity. Heaney uses a variety of different ways to include past in his poems, like the bog people, the conflicts in Northern Ireland and in his childhood, to attempt to understand present day sectarian conflict and to explore human cruelty. ...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 Seamus Heaney section.

Found what you're looking for?

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

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 Seamus Heaney essays

  1. Peer reviewed

    Compare the poems 'Mid-Term Break' by Seamus Heaney and ' 'Out Out- ' ' ...

    4 star(s)

    This is a very powerful tool for evoking an emotional response from the reader. The boy's words frame a plea for his hand to be saved. 'Don't let them cut my hand off', 'Don't let them sister!' At this point in the poem we know more than the boy does, 'but the hand was already gone'.

  2. Compare and contrast the way Seamus Heaney and D.H Lawrence depict childhood feelings and ...

    This nostalgic poem is both positive and negative as he fondly thinks of the past - which makes him realise what he had then yet he can never go back there. The poem is very revealing about the emotions D.H Lawrence associates with his mother.

  1. GCSE English Seamus Heaney - 'At a Potato Digging', 'Follower', 'Death ...

    The Song of the Old Mother - Link would be that this poem considers the cycle of life and the way in which the roles of people change with age. The Affliction of Margaret - Nature of parent / child relationships. �? �? �? �? �? �? �? �? �?

  2. "Compare how Gillian Clarke and Seamus Heaney present different images of the past".

    "tell me they were 'sorry for my trouble" So this was saying that these men were not sorry for the death but sorry for what Heaney was going through. Heaney also heard whispers, that he "was the eldest", this may have felt like to Heaney that more responsibility was put

  1. How Seamus Heaney Evokes the Sensations and Emotions of Childhood by Comparing any Three ...

    making us realise how rough it was, this reflects the mood of the poem in general, how hard "Churning Day" was. Heaney describes how the kitchen floor was 'flagged' (Line 9) to describe how flat the floor was. We then get into the real action of the poem, 'Arms ached.

  2. With close reference to at least three poems by Seamus Heaney, explore the ways ...

    He tells his story in a childlike way that lets the reader know that the experience is about a child, he talks about his teacher, "Miss Walls", and about the "daddy frog" and the "mammy frog". The fact that he ran away from the frogs at the end of the

  1. Write an essay on Heaney's poetry in the light of his statement that it ...

    This subject matter then gave way to an exploration of the violence in Northern Ireland with reference to the ancient sacrificial rituals of Jutland. Heaney's later work marks a departure from a focus on such universal issues, as the poet attempts to come to personal terms with the political situation in Northern Ireland.

  2. Comparing and contrasting "Digging" by Seamus Heaney, and "He was" by Richard Wilbur.

    In 'Digging', the speaker describes the hard works done by his father and grandfather. His father digged "potatoes" his grandfather digged "turfs" and also the words, "Through living roots awaken in my head" which I think means that Seamus Heaney's family tree has continued through the hard work done by the poet's ancestors.

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