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Seamus Heaney : Comparisons

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Explore Seamus Heaney's treatment of bog bodies and how he relates their history to his own time. Seamus Heaney was a great poet who was influenced by his surroundings and the mystic secrets of the landscape. He was taken in by the idea of the beautiful peatlands that could preserve almost any object or person it swallowed. Over the years the peatlands has been used for a variety of things. In this essay I will explore the links between Seamus Heaney and how he relates through his two poems 'Bog Queen' and 'Punishment' the historical links from the bog bodies era to today. As I previously mentioned the peatlands was used for a variety of things, these things consisted of the construction of building materials, filters, fuel, and peat moss. Not only did the peatlands provide hard materials but also it was a habitat for many mammals, birds and it even provided a reasonable home for plants to grow such as wild berries. During the iron ages these natural organisms provided a way of life to the people who lived off the peatlands. Not only does Seamus Heaney link the historical features in his poems but we can also see these features for ourselves when things such as, when the stone age people brought over animals for grazing because the land was rich in minerals and nutrients, this is still done in Irelands society today. Many people believed that the peatlands was much like a history book as it is renowned for preserving the organic and in organic remains of settlements such as, tombs, farms, track ways, implements, and bog bodies. The bog bodies were people who either was buried, killed, or committed suicide and was then swallowed by the land of the peat. The peatlands is such a brilliant preserver of skeleton, skin, hair, internal organs and clothing, when it comes to finding out about the bog bodies' scientists can analyse in much detail the body's stomach contents, the body's diseases, the date of death and how the person died. ...read more.


when Catholic girls that befriended the British soldiers during the early 1970's were tarred and feathered as a punishment, condemned by the IRA. Also by using the word 'cauled' it is referring towards birthing imagery as cauled is an extra membrane which is meant to be considered lucky, however you weren't so lucky if you was going to be tarred and feathered were you? 'Wept by the railings' is the next line, which we can see the use of present tense. Illustrating my point of how this is the first official present stanza of the poem. The last stanza raps the poem up in Seamus Heaney's deciding comment on whether he agrees or disagrees of the IRA's actions towards the windeby girl and people during the 1970's. But to contrast coming to a decision whether he agrees or not is something in which Seamus Heaney doesn't do as he uses the words 'civilized outrage', which is an oxymoron to emphasize his point how he doesn't condemn or condones the IRA actions as he is outraged at them but also sympathizes at the thought of punishment. But are we still like the Stone Age when it comes to drastic actions? We still punish women if they step out of what is considered as appropriate actions inside our society. Although the poem 'Punishment' is one of Seamus Heaney's very successful ones it is not the only one. The other poem I mentioned at the being was 'Bog Queen' this isn't another poem about the windeby girl but is still to do with the bog bodies and the peatlands. This poem contains many geographical references of Denmark and Ireland, purely because the Bog Queen was that of a Danish Viking but was found in the peatlands, Ireland, this links Jutland and Ireland. These references will be commented on whilst I analyze this poem. Well, to begin I think you should realise that this poem is spoke in a different way to the other poem, this one is a monologue of the bog queen. ...read more.


Birthing imagery slips into this stanza through lines three and four. This is highlighted as the words 'birth-cord' and 'had been cut' both referring to the umbilical cord inside a women's womb which connects the baby to the mother. This could also be link towards the previous sexual things I mentioned. In a nutshell these two lines could mean that the Bog Queen is born once again but this time from the bog, this is in comparison to the line I previously mentioned 'A jar of spawn'. Finally, the last stanza raps the whole poem off, the very first line of this stanza very much expresses time as it says 'And I rose from the dark' meaning that she has gone from the past to the present almost as if the founders of her body have resurrected her from the bog. This metaphor for the rising of the Irish Aunt shows Seamus Heaney's Irish side as it also makes the point more dramatic and effective. The next 3 lines contain words such as 'Hacked', 'Skull-ware' and 'Frayed' these very powerful words are used in order to show that Seamus Heaney doesn't approve of the British soldiers being in Ireland but he believes that the IRA aren't the answer as they use sexual and physical violence to their victims, just like the Vikings did. This is another geographical reference towards the peatlands and the Viking Bog Queen. In conclusion to my analysis of Seamus Heaney's two poems 'Punishment' and 'Bog Queen' I feel I have shown some very valid and important links towards Seamus Heaney's time of life and the life of the bog bodies. I believe that both poems largely express this time connection and through Seamus Heaney's gift of poetry he shows his readers how much passion and mystery he has towards the bog bodies almost as if he has a one-to-one relationship with each and everyone of them. By Sandy Clarke 10RF ...read more.

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