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What are the Themes/ Preoccupations of Heaney's Poetry and how does he explore them through 'Digging' and 'An Advancement of Learning'?

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Introduction

What are the Themes/ Preoccupations of Heaney's Poetry and how does he explore them through 'Digging' and 'An Advancement of Learning'? In Digging Heaney explores his childhood and his relationship with his family by describing how he would look down at his Father out of his window, and how he looks at him and absorbs and admires the great skills his Father possesses. 'The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft Against the inside knee was levered firmly.' The word nestled implies his Fathers natural ability to rest his foot on the spade. The poem also tells about how his Father had been Digging for twenty years, this was probably his whole lifetime at work. Heaney's relationship with his family is also shown in the sixth stanza where he talks about his Grandfather and how he had helped him when he was at a young age. The skills Heaney observed in his Father are also shown in the seventh stanza showing Heaney's relationship with his Family as a strong one as he worked with them and watched them on his farm. 'nicking and slicing neatly... for the good turf' The poem Digging puts across the idea that Heaney helped on the farm in his childhood, whereas An Advancement of Learning changes this picture by showing him as a lonely boy with strong fears and ...read more.

Middle

how skilful and long working his Father and Grandfather were, this is effective because you can imagine them skill fully cutting neat accurate amounts of turf and placing it down to take home for the fire. A similar language is used in the first two stanzas of An Advancement of Learning in Heaney's description of the river and the surrounding land. The words used give the river an old feel and also emphasise the solitariness of where Heaney is, 'Hunched over the railing, Well away from the road now' Heaney's vivid language is also used in describing the rat in the sixth and seventh stanzas this is very effective as you can gradually see the whole picture of the rat in your mind, I think Heaney does this to form some irony, for when he gets to the seventh stanza and he stares out the small creature, this is ironic because before the rat is described as a horrible ugly beast, Ears plastered down on his knobbled skull...The tapered tail that followed him, The raindrop eye, the old snout' The ideas behind both of the poems written by Heaney are ordered in a very much similar regular cyclic pattern, Both poems start with a problem, or something that Heaney must do, decide whether to did with his pen (explore his life as a child) ...read more.

Conclusion

This also helps to create a vivid picture of what Heaney was experiencing in his childhood. The stanza are also divided up as to the thought processes going through Heaney's mind at the time this can be seen between stanzas five and six, 'Just like his old man My Grandfather cut more turf in a day...' This is effective as it creates splits between different topics yet at the same time keeps the whole poem running together. This division between stanzas is also similar in An Advancement of Learning. The stanza are still divided up according to the subject Heaney is thinking of at the same time, however the stanza are linked by incomplete sentences from one stanza to the next. 'My throat sickened so quickly that I turned down the path in cold sweat' In Digging Heaney uses a conversational tone to make the poem more interesting to the reader, he does this in the sixth stanza when he is talking about his Grandfather. It is further made conversational by the use of slang phrases such as 'by God' He also uses a similar conversational language in An Advancement of Learning in the fourth stanza by using the word, 'But God' Alex Oakes - 10WN - Mr Hayes - Year 10 English Poetry First Draft. ...read more.

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