• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

What do the poems "Churning Day" and "An Advancement of Learning" tell us about Seamus Heaney's childhood?

Extracts from this document...


What do the poems "Churning Day" and "An Advancement of Learning" tell us about Seamus Heaney's childhood? Seamus Heaney was born to a rural family, in 1939, in Northern Ireland. Heaney grew up on a farm, as his father was a great farmer. Heaney had great admiration for ordinary farming folk, but did not want to be a farmer himself. His poems often celebrate the skills of the ordinary rural people like the poem "Churning Day". He also deals with the loss of childhood innocence and move to adulthood like in "An Advancement of Learning". These two poems deal with simple experiences but important. His language is very sensuous. Experiences are evoked by sounds especially onomatopoeia and alliteration. The themes in these poems include family relationships, closeness and security in the family, nature, the love of nature but also the negative view of nature, and moving from childhood to adulthood. For Seamus Heaney's family, "Churning Day" is an important "Day", I say this because Heaney gives the title "Day" which emphasizes it's importance, (for example "New Years Day",) it does not happen or occur everyday, (this is just like "Churning Day",) it does not take place everyday, so it is special. It is not only the day that is important, but also the time the family spends together. ...read more.


In my opinion Heaney knew he could confront the rat, and he knew he was ready, but the move from childhood to adulthood was the thing that was stopping him. Heaney realises that the rat is nothing compared to him, and that it is smaller than him, which means it is of no harm to him. Because Heaney had never seen the rats just heard them when they "scraped" "Behind the hen-coop" and also above his bed on the "ceiling boards" he never really finds out that they are harmless, he doesn't know what they look like, but when he comes face to face with one he realises that having a fear of rats is for Children. When Heaney decides to cross the bridge he is leaving all his childhood innocence and also fears. By crossing the "bridge" he brings more responsibility to himself, and also more independence. "Churning Day" and "An Advancement of Learning" have a few similarities but are also very different in many ways. "Churning Day" is a very happy and joyful day whereas "An Advancement of Learning" is very tensed and in suspense. In "Churning Day" the tone is conveyed in different ways in every Stanza. Each stanza has a different tone. ...read more.


There is a rhythm but it is difficult to describe. It varies according to what is being described. That is the same as "An Advancement of Learning". The poems do not tell us much about Heaney's childhood. Although they do tell us a few points such as his family unity and also his fears. The poem "Churning Day" does tell us that he is happy in the simple rural life. Both the poems are very different as in "Churning Day" Heaney is with his family and they go through the whole process together. Whereas in "An Advancement of Learning" he is alone and has to come face to face with the rat himself. Heaney shows his childhood to be secure in "Churning Day". I can slightly relate "Churning Day " to myself, and that is only the family unity. But I cannot relate "An Advancement of Learning" to myself, as I have not really come across anything like it. The best element of "Churning Day" is the family unity and also security because it shows the love the family has for each other. The best element of "An Advancement of Learning" is when Heaney crosses the bridge and confronts his fear and moves on as it shows bravery and courage, and victory because he stood up to the rat. Both poems are good in their own ways. By: Aesha Macci 11R ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Seamus Heaney section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Seamus Heaney essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Seamus Heaney's poems explore the loss of childhood and the cruel awakening into the ...

    4 star(s)

    Frequently lines roll into one another. This gives the effect of time running on continuously. There are two lengthy stanzas in this poem, almost like a story. In "Blackberry Picking," we are informed that we should have low expectations of adulthood, so we will not be disappointed.

  2. Seamus Heaney had a Roman Catholic upbringing in a rural area of Northern Ireland. ...

    His father, who is apparently strong at funerals, is distraught by the death of his child. It says; "He had always taken funerals in his stride". His mother was too angry at fate and how young her child was. She tries to hold back the tears by constant coughs and sighs.

  1. culture and the heritage in heaney

    This suggests he might also feel a foreigner in his own country. The last two sentences he says in the whole of "The Tollund Man" is: "I will feel lost, Unhappy and at home." This is a paradoxical ending. He recognises the old society is there's.

  2. "Both Seamus Heaney and Carol Anne Duffy explore childhood in their poems - What ...

    This tells us that she wants to conserve her childhood by having vivid memories of it. Heaney is hesitant to let go of his childhood, but in the end he accepts that he has to let go. Whereas Duffy is impatient to let go, and is excited about the thrill of growing up.

  1. Plath and Heaney - In this essay I will be looking at 3 poems, ...

    Is the rat on the other side of the bridge, or is it something else, something that the man fears even more than the rat? ' I took the embankment path As always deferring The bridge.' These first few lines are very compelling, and make us want to read on,

  2. How does Heaney make his childhood experiences in rural Ireland vivid?

    After all this happened Heaney's "fear came back as he saw Dan Taggart trapped big rats, snared rabbits, shot crows, and pulling old hens necks". The killing is quite violent. As Heaney got older he thinks concern for animals is a false sentiment "still living displaces false sentiments" so he has started killing animals him self.

  1. Write about three poems, which convey the atmosphere of a particular place. (Stopping by ...

    As Wordsworth's poem holds a great deal of atmosphere so does the poem written by Robert Frost, "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening". This poem is set in woods covered in snow. The character's location during the poem is between a farmhouse and a frozen lake.

  2. Compare the ways in which Pat Barker and Seamus Heaney use language as a ...

    The men had 'greatcoats full of barley' at the start of the poem. When the men were buried on the hillside they fell on '...the barley grew up out of the grave.' This imagery is hopeful and suggests that their sacrifice provides for future generations.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work