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Seamus Justin Heaney

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Seamus Justin Heaney was born 13 April 1939. Seamus was born and raised on the family farm in Mossbawn, County Derry. Seamus was the eldest of nine children of Patrick and Margaret Kathleen Heaney. His early education took place at the local Anahorish School from 1945 to 1951. From 1951 to 1957 he was a boarder at St. Columb's College in Derry. His life in Mossbawn features prominently in his early work. It is obvious from his early poems that Mossbawn gave him a sense of belonging. A belonging to a farming community, who would have understood each other, on an agricultural level. In 1953 Seamus's infant brother Christopher died in a road accident. Christopher is featured in the poem "Mid-Term Break." From 1957 to 1961 Seamus attends Queen's University, Belfast. He graduates with first-class honours degree in English language and literature. Seamus then takes a postgraduate teacher's training diploma at St. Joseph's College, at Andersontown, Belfast. He then became a Lecturer in English at St. Joseph's. In August 1965 he married Marie Devlin. The next year "Death of a Naturalist" was published and he won the Faber prize, Somerset Maugham Award and the Gregory Award for young writers. His wife Marie gave birth to their first child Michael in July. ...read more.


Continuing from this verse and unto the penultimate verse he is trying to reason the unknown countrymen with the two communities in the North of Ireland. "Watching their pointed hands" could be the politicians who habitually point the finger at the opposition. Heaney also writes, "Not knowing their tongue." Again this could also have links with his homeland of how the Protestant and Catholic communities can never understand each other. In the last stanza Heaney realizes that if he were to visit Jutland he would immediately recognize and liken Jutland to his own violent society. Seamus Heaney does not just delve into the past to comment on the future in one of his bog poems. He repeatedly does it. For example in the Graubelle Man, in the ninth stanza, Heaney describes the Graubelle Man. Heaney saw a photograph of the Graubelle Man, his head and shoulder were sticking out of the peat, 'bruised like a forceps baby'. Could this have similarities to a forced birth? If so surely the birth of Northern Ireland was forced onto the people of Ireland? The last two verses are very graphic and interesting and can be liken to the present conflict. ...read more.


How do you measure peace? Although there is a peace process there still is conflict. There is still mistrust and there is still hatred. I think that Heaney finds it difficult to find a solution to the problems in Ireland. He believes that religion is the root of the problem. Heaney uses his poetry to also explore human cruelty and to attempt to understand present day sectarian conflict. I suppose Heaney demonstrates his Catholic sympathies in his poems. Heaney also looks at the past and sees how other people worshipped, especially the worshipping acts of the bog people and what they believed in. I think he would like to suggest an alternative religion that the whole island of Ireland could unite in, such as the bog. By reading some of his poems we could feel that he doesn't value Christianity. Certainly in Limbo Heaney was disturbed by the discovery of the infant. Maybe it's not Christianity that he doesn't view maybe it is Catholicism that he doesn't valued. Whatever the answer Heaney displays his emotions in his poems to administer it to the world and for the world to take note. Heaney once explained "It is very true to say that work done by writers is quite often an attempt to give solid expression to that which is bothering them...They feel they have got it right if they express the stress." ...read more.

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