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I shall be writing about three of Seamus Heaney's poems to show "the lyrical beauty and ethical depth that exalt everyday miracles and the living past.

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Introduction

I shall be writing about three of Seamus Heaney's poems to show "the lyrical beauty and ethical depth that exalt everyday miracles and the living past In the poem 'Digging', Heaney is able to bring to life 'the living past' where in watching his father digging flowerbeds he is able to recall childhood scenes when his father dug up new potatoes, which had to be collected by the children. It also leads him further back into his past to remember his grandfather digging peat to be burned as fuel on the fire. Heaney uses the image of digging to explain how, by looking through his past, he can unearth his roots to discover who he is: 'Between my finger and my thumb The squat pen rests, I'll dig with it.' Also in this poem he includes themes of childhood memories, the past and present and rural life. Seamus Heaney was born in 1939, and brought up on a fifty-acre farm in Northern Ireland. Although technology had advanced greatly in the early twentieth century, traditional farming methods, which have been handed down for generations, were still used on the farm. ...read more.

Middle

Each line is short which contributes towards the tension. There is an ethical element in this poem because he knows he had done the right thing. The poem uses very powerful language and rhythm to create the tension and the fear and at the same time Heaney uses words of great beauty. In the first two verses, Heaney conveys the peacefulness of the scene by the description of the river, buildings, sky and swans. He uses beautiful metaphors for the river and the sky. 'The river nosed past, Pliable, oil-skinned, wearing A transfer of gables and sky Hunched over the railing' This is a very effective and lyrical description of the river using words in unusual ways for example, 'oil-skinned' and 'wearing a transfer of gables and sky' to describe the reflections in the water. In verse 3 the picture changes 'something slobbered curtly, close' the use of alliteration heightens the effect that is continued in the second and third line. 'smudging the silence; a rat slimed out of the water' In the first description of the rat Heaney uses words that suggest the rat is all-powerful and fearsome. ...read more.

Conclusion

The poem ends with a vivid description of how he took part in the custom of going in to see his brother, who was lying in his coffin in a room in the house, before he was buried. The last two verses describing this are very moving. Heaney shows the contrast between the pale face of his brother and the vivid red bruise on hi left temple, describing it as 'poppy'. He shows the quiet and peacefulness of the bedroom using not only the visual images but also the soft 's' sounds. 'snowdrops and candles soothed the bedside' The last line is very poignant with two short similar phrases and the repetition of the word 'foot'. A four foot box, a foot for every year' Which reminds us that a four old year who is lying in a four-foot coffin. In analysing these three poems in detail, I have been able to understand how Seamus Heaney is able to bring 'lyrical beauty, ethical depth, everyday miracles and the lining past exalted' to his poetry. Once read or heard, his poetry makes a lasting impression because of these qualities that strikes a chord in the listening or reader. ...read more.

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