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How does Heaney vividly explore the nature of fear in An Advancement of Learning?

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Introduction

How does Heaney vividly explore the nature of fear in 'An Advancement of Learning'? Seamus Heaney is well known for writing his memoirs in the form of poetry which mainly describe his childhood experiences. In his poem 'An Advancement of Learning' Heaney uses macabre imagery and an 'innocence to experience' approach on tackling fear. The poem becomes very tense and dark and his use of language really sends shivers up the reader's spine, also giving the reader a sense of the dirty and grey environment which Heaney is describing. The poem details when Heaney is walking the 'Embankment path' where he is trapped by two fears in the form of rats. The poem shows how his fears have been overcome where he can see the true threat of these weak creatures. He then goes on to cross 'the bridge' which is a metaphorical boundary of fears and memories. ...read more.

Middle

He uses the calm and pensive mood to contrast with the fast paced and tense atmosphere which is created in stanza three to the penultimate stanza. In the last stanza however, Heaney slows down the pace of the poem restoring the tranquillity which is seen at the start. We can also observe a sense of accomplishment from the view point of Heaney when he crosses 'the bridge' which retains a metaphorical and literal boundary in Heaney's life. The poem has been written in 9 quatrains (stanzas) which I feel is well structured to give the impression of fear by introducing the phobia (stanzas 3 and 4), facing it (stanza 5), overcoming it (stanzas 7,8) and concluding the poem well in stanza 9. Heaney uses a 'loose' rhyming scheme in stanzas 1, 3, 6, 8 and 9 which have the rhyming pattern abcb. Stanzas 2 and 4 have a rhyme 'shift' to abac. ...read more.

Conclusion

This gives the reader the impression that Heaney does not fully understand the threat imposed by this insignificant animal. Heaney's poetry is mainly based on his personal experiences giving us an insight into his life as a child. Heaney's poetry is very detailed and I feel as a reader, I can experience a sense that I am in the scene as it unfolds. Many of his poems are very macabre although I have really enjoyed Heaney's poetry. In my mind, they are understandable, interesting and above all enjoyable to read. Heaney is a very talented poet as by looking at his work, we can see evidence of a very skilled writer through his use of language. In the poem 'An Advancement of Learning', he executes the use of imagery with precision painting a very graphic image in our heads of the fear that he is facing. For me, this poem is my favourite as it gives us a cross section into Heaney's work by using a variety of poetic components. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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