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'The Early Purges' by Seamus Heaney focuses on the traumas of childhood, and how impressionable we are when we are young.

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Introduction

The Early Purges By Seamus Heaney 'The Early Purges' by Seamus Heaney focuses on the traumas of childhood, and how impressionable we are when we are young. The poem is sad: it is about a child who sees kittens drowning, along with many other animals being killed in various methods on a farm. At the time the child is terrified, but by the end of the poem the fully-grown child is doing all the deeds he was so scared of when he was young. Heaney used many literary techniques to get the feelings and thoughts across effectively, this essay will look at how, and why he did this. The main theme of the poem is all about how we change when we grow up. There is direct contrast between the first and last lines: 'I was six when I first saw kittens drown' And the last line; 'On well run farms pests have to be kept down' The first line connotes a sad boy standing forlornly watching helpless kittens drown. The last line is about the same person but by the time he has grown up he is saying almost the exact opposite. ...read more.

Middle

The idea of events unfolding as the author speaks is continued in the next line; 'Of the pump and the water pumped in.' The repeated use of the word 'pump' suggests the author already knew what was going to happen. He saw and dreaded what was going to happen, and this is symbolized through the repeated use of the word 'pump'. " 'Sure isn't it better for them now?' Dan said. Like wet gloves they bobbed and shone till he sluiced Them out on the dunghill, glossy and dead." The whole verse is quoted together, as it is important to note that the author sees the exact opposite of what Dan is saying. Dan suggests that the kittens have been put out of their misery, but the author sees them as miserable now, comparing them to wet gloves. The idea that the kittens are drowned, and are therefore wet, shows throughout the verse. A simile is used comparing them to wet gloves, and the words 'glossy' and 'bobbed' create a watery, wet effect. The next stanza carries on from where the last one left, and is largely about death and the child's reaction to it; "Suddenly frightened, for days I sadly hung, Round the yard, watching the three ...read more.

Conclusion

At the start of the poem the author can't abide killing, by the end he is indifferent to it, but all of these feelings are shelved aside when confronted by the 'common enemy' - the 'towns folk'. " 'Prevention of cruelty' talk cuts ice in town" A metaphor is used; 'cuts ice'. This suggests that this is the hot talk of the moment, or that it is the subject of heated discussions. It could even be argued that the metaphor is meant to show the topic is new. Perhaps it is meant to symbolize that the topic is 'hot of the press'. The common enemy idea is continued with this phrase: "Where they consider death unnatural" Even though the 'towns people' are almost agreeing with the author, such is his hate of them he knocks them down for it. He suggests that the 'towns people' are unrealistic in their views, and that they can't bear to face death at all. However the next line suggests that his stance on animal rights isn't entirely honest: "But on well run-farms pests have to be kept down" The line certainly seems well rehearsed, and is almost a clich�. This suggests that the author does not at all believe this, but because he comes from the country he has to accept the beliefs of the 'country people'. ...read more.

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