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Seamus Heaney - The Skunk Commentary

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Seamus Heaney - The Skunk Commentary Skunk is a poem by Seamus Heaney about his married life. The poem is a tribute to his wife - how living away from home has caused him to miss his married life. Exiled from his wife, Heaney is recalls the skunk which reminds him of his wife. There are two settings in this poem. The first five stanzas are based on memories of California nights, and the last stanza is a recent memory of waiting in bed for his wife as she changed into her nightdress. The theme of this poem is memory, where Heaney recalls memories of his California nights; this is portrayed in "it all came back to me last night". ...read more.


Heaney also compares the skunk to a "visitor", which in the context of this poem, may mean secret lover. "I expected her like a visitor" is a smooth transition to the second stanza, where he recalls a particular memory of the skunk's night time visits. "I began to be tense as a voyeur" describes Heaney's feeling of waiting for the skunk to make its nightly visit. This line foreshadows the last stanza, connecting the garden scene to the later bedroom scene with his wife, where he describes how he watched his wife undressing for bed. The use of imagery is extremely creative and strange - the images take on sensuous, appealing and erotic qualities as the senses are treated to an array of smells, sights and sounds, all celebrating the primitive nature of sex. ...read more.


Metaphors can be found throughout the poem, most of them unusual; "whinnied into silence" compares the vibrating noise of the fridge to a horse's whinny or moan. There is a clever play on words to create aural imagery - alliteration, assonance and consonance can be found throughout the poem. Note the 's' sounds in "stirred by the sootfall". The 's' sound is soft, like what is described. This is an example of sibilance. Note how the 'u' sounds of 'the beautiful, useless tang of eucalyptus spelt your absence' is an example of assonance. There is no rhyming pattern in this poem, which suits the conversational manner of the poem. The rhythm of this poem is end stopped and enjambement. End stopped lines set the scene, while the enjambement allows a flow of feelings, creating a sense of urgency and excitement. ?? ?? ?? ?? Rachel Wong 12YC October 1, 2005 ...read more.

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