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The Early Purges by Seamus Heaney.

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The Early Purges by Seamus Heaney QS: Write 400-500 words discussing the writer's concerns and the poetic methods. Explain meaning and methods. In the poem ' The Early Purges' by Seamus Heaney, the literal meaning of it is the poet is tracing his history to his attitude towards killing the animals on the farm: from the past as a child, to now as an adult. The poet's attitude changes as time went on, i.e. as he gets older. On the second level, the idea is about how we lose innocence and the difference in belief of urban people and the rural people on treating animals on the farm. The main method used is by proving us with many striking details. Through this poem we can see the poet is tracing his history to his attitude: from the past as a child, to now as an adult. His viewpoint changes, as the poet gets older. Firstly the title of the poem "Early Purges" tells us that the child's sentiments get purged i.e. in this poem, his child purity had been overlaid by the killings. The very first line that Heaney uses, "I was six when I first saw kittens drown." is very powerful. This is because it shows that reader that he is making it vivid, by stating that he was only six. ...read more.


We can see from this idea that time is able to change anything. There is a quite difference in belief between the urban people and the rural people on how to treat the animals. From the urban people's point of view they see death are unnatural and it creates even a horror ''Prevention of cruelty' talk cuts ice in town where they consider death unnatural'. While from the rural people's point of view, they see these killings necessary, 'On well-run farms pests have to be kept down'. This shows that the country people think it is perfectly normal. A good example of a country person will be Dan Taggart. He kills all sorts of animals, from kittens to puppies. Dan uses words and phrases such as "pitched", "scraggy wee shits", "soused" and "slung" and we can see vividly the kind of person that Dan is. He is not, at first impression, a nice man, because the words imply heartless and rough and uncaring behaviour towards the kittens. The words such as "pitched" are images of Dan's cruelty to the animals, because it implies that he throws them rather that places them with care into the bucket. From him we get a good idea of life on the farm, because he plays a major part in Heaney's memories. The contrast between the different believes is even more emphasized when the poet gives out examples of 'kittens drown' and 'pups are prodded to drown'. ...read more.


The third one is the life on farm. Heaney uses words such as "drown", "trapped", "snared", "shot" or "tug" to describe the various ways in which animals are killed on the farm. These words show that country life can be brutal because it is not necessarily enjoyable to kill these animals, but it is something that has to be done. The images, which he uses here, such as "with a sickening tug, pulled old hens' necks." are not pleasant, but they are certainly very effective because the reader immediately knows what is going on, and can relate to both sides of the argument, i.e. Taggart and the young Heaney. The poem is composed of tight and regular rhymed three-line stanzas, which carry the argument clearly. The form of the poem is sort of 'terza rima', but it is fully followed only at the last 2 stanzas, this creates the effect of concluding on an strong point i.e. when the sentiment of the poet changes, the rhyme also changes. For other stanzas, it follows a rhyme pattern of 'a, c'. In the poem, a triple structure is formed. The poet first spends lots time talking about the killings of the kittens. Then follows by other similar examples e.g. rats, rabbits etc. Lastly, the last two stanzas are about the summary of the lessons that is taught to him through age i.e. those killings have made him cruel as he grew. ...read more.

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