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Poetry: Seamus Heaney Long Essay

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Poetry: Seamus Heaney Long Essay Poetic techniques allow experience to be represented in an intense and compressed way. The poem "The Grauballe Man", from one of Seamus Heaney's collection called New Selected Poems, contains many similes and metaphors that represents Heaney's experience in a powerful and condensed way when he first looked upon a corpse known as 'The Grauballe Man'. "The Grauballe Man", like "The Tollund Man" is another meditation on the preserved corpse of a Scandinavian victim dug up from the peat bogs. But where "The Tollund Man" was concerned to draw a parallel between an Irish present and a Danish past and to affirm something from that kinship, the emphasis in "The Grauballe Man" is different. Essentially the poem is about different ways of regarding corpses. The poem starts, unusually for Heaney, with a series of descriptions which are set up as similes and not metaphors, that is they use the devises 'as if', 'as', or 'like' to connect the thing described with the element which is used to describe. In metaphor the thing described is spoken of directly in terms of the element which is used as a comparison. It is the difference between "the grain of his wrists is like bog oak" (simile) and "his hips are the ridge and purse of a mussel" (metaphor). These really are different phases of the linking process which is description. ...read more.


The action does not promote an interaction between us and it. It is self-perfecting . Add 'seems', as Heaney does, and the action of self-creation, if indeed it takes place, is both observed from outside, and evidently produced by the observer, in so far as it is the poet as observer who draws attention to his own creation of the image. It draws our attention to the observer who said it, that is, the poet. Between these two 'like' constructions is a more certain, less subjective statement, the metaphorical "he lies / on a pillow turf", which acts in the poem to stabilise the movement and variables around it. Stability is, of course, the intended sense here. This is a nice example of a grammatical construction precisely complementing the wider sense that the statement implies. One further point should be made. We know there is a corpse here and can readily infer that it could be described directly in terms of measurement, weight, objectively accounted appearance and so on. The fact that such a description is not given, but may be inferred as a necessary base line, means that the 'as if' descriptions effectively produce a double image, an implied reality and a stated imagination understanding. The effect is to create from a single object a new, laminated reality which is of course, still a recreation of the corpse. ...read more.


Its interrelationships are possible only to states likes memory, dream, imagination, but its enactment can only become actual as the poem we have, different in kind therefore from the elements which construct it, but intimately related to them, because it is our deepest, most subtle access to them. The body so constructed is again a complex of opposites, "hung in the scales / with beauty and atrocity". These opposites, like "the cured wound" are its substance, its determinants. Heaney expands 'beauty' to "the Dying Gaul", the classical statue, Graeco Roman tribute to the heroism of a Northern people, his fine but collapsed body unable to rise to its feet, and here "too strictly compressed", by an art deployed on a functional military object, a shield. He expands 'atrocity' to his own time, and to all others, where hooded victims are "slashed and dumped". This is how a poem enters into human agony, certainly by saying how it is, but more by laying bare reading after reading of the event it memorialises until the unavailable word that is sufficient to it, is only just unuttered. "The Grauballe Man" is one of many poems in Seamus Heaney's collection titled New Selected Poems that express Heaney's experience in such a strong and powerful through the use of mainly similes and metaphors. The similes and metaphors describe the person known as 'The Grauballe Man' when Heaney looked upon it in a photograph and how it looked to him in his memories. Through these techniques used, we as the reader are able to visualise the corpse and experience what Heaney was experiencing.. ...read more.

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