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Post 1914 poetry. Other cultures- poetry of Seamus Heaney.

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Introduction

Coursework assignment 5- post 1914 poetry. Other cultures- poetry of Seamus Heaney. Heaney often writes about his childhood. Choose two or three poems and discuss his presentation of this theme. We are studying the work of Seamus Heaney, a well known poet. Heaney's earlier poems were largely focused on his childhood and his upbringing on his family's farm in Northern Ireland. Both his father and grandfather were farmers, but Heaney did not share their ambitions, he followed his dreams to become a successful poet. I am studying two poems by Heaney, the first is called 'Digging' and the second 'Follower,' both of which are about his childhood and how he viewed his father and grandfather. The first poem, 'Digging', refers to the fact that Heaney did not follow in his family's tradition. The poem begins with Heaney describing how his pen fits snugly into his hand. It is suggested that the pen is a comfort to him but something that he has complete control over and which can be used as a powerful weapon. We are made to believe this by the line, 'Between my finger and my thumb the squat pen rests snug as a gun.' This makes Heaney sound slightly threatening as if with this weapon he could do anything. ...read more.

Middle

We start to understand Heaney and receive the impression he feels the need to be accepted by his family and make them proud of him. The line, 'Through living roots awaken in my head' is effective and uses a slight pun as the word 'roots' could be perceived as the roots of the potatoes or the roots of the family tradition, and how in the past the family have conformed to them and been satisfied in doing so. The poem finishes nearly the same way as it starts with 'Between my finger and my thumb the squat pen rests. I'll dig with it.' From this line we receive the impression Heaney knows he is going to be just as successful as his father and grandfather and he appears to be quite confident. It seems to me that he is also saying he is going to do what he wants and even if people don't like him for it doesn't really make any difference to him. Through writing this poem Heaney seems to gain confidence and reassurance within himself. We know this by the change in the first and second line. The second poem I am discussing is called 'Follower.' This poem presents us with Heaney's admiration and idolisation for his father. This poem is also informal, as Heaney uses casual chatty language, to make us feel as if we know him. ...read more.

Conclusion

I think the poem makes Heaney's feelings easy to understand, and the audience are made to empathise with him. The poem finishes with a change in roles, as his father has become older he has become a nuisance just as Heaney used to be. We feel glad that Heaney has now been given his chance to shine and has 'stepped out of his father's shadow.' Both poems are extremely similar, focusing on the same theme. They both discuss Heaney's feelings for his family and they both talk about his family's job and how he admires them. There is one main difference in both poems; in 'Digging' Heaney does not want to follow in his family's footsteps, he wants to find his own way, doing what he enjoys, whereas, in 'Follower,' we receive the impression Heaney wants to be like his father, he wants to be able to work and create that same perfection. 'Follower' seems to be Heaney's feelings as a young boy who is confused about what he wants to do with his life. Whereas, 'Digging,' seems to be an older Heaney whom is now sure of what he wants to do and is confident he will achieve it. I think in 'Follower' Heaney is unsure about continuing in his family's tradition but does not actually express this emotion until 'Digging.' The reader witnesses Heaney grow and learn, and understands that Heaney didn't let anyone get in the way of his ambition to be a poet. Katie Fleetwood 10m ...read more.

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