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Religious motifs

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Religious motifs While reading 'Clearances' one may find a great number of religious references almost in every sonnet. Those references constitute another theme which binds the poems into one coherent cycle. The cobble that is thrown at the poet's great - grandmother is definitely one of the religious symbols of suffering, pain, rejection and punishment. Heaney's great - grandmother was stoned by the local people because she married a Catholic man and, therefore, 'betrayed' their religion. As it is stated in 'Slownik symboli', a stone symbolizes administering justice but it also is a tool to inflict punishment and martyrdom. 'God establishes the stoning as a punishment for idolatry'1 'Thou shalt not sacrifice unto the Lord thy God any bullock, or sheep, wherein is blemish or any evilfavouredness: for that is an abomination unto the Lord thy God. If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the Lord thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the Lord transgressing his covenant, and hath gone and served other gods and worshipped them, either the sun or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded (...) then shalt thou bring forth that man or woman, which have commited that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die.'2 Heaney's great - grandmother married a Catholic man and therefore she was condemned by the local people. ...read more.


'It is Number 5, New Row, Land of the Dead/ where grandfather is raising from his place (...) and they sit down in the shining room together'. The memories recall the reality and the reality recalls the memoirs. Heaney ponders over the past and reminiscences about the activities that he used to perform with his mother. Now she is gone and the poet has only the recollections left. 'I remembered her head bent towards my head/ (...) Never closer the whole rest of our lives'. The motif of suffusion of the two worlds - the Earthly Life and the Land of the Dead - symbolizes Christ descending to the abyss after His death and before the Resurrection. It is the Christ himself who joins these two worlds in the great mystery of death and the Resurrection. 'Verily, verily I say unto you, that ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy (...)And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again , and your hearts shall rejoice and your joy no man taketh from you. And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full (...) ...read more.


They felt as if they came to a standstill. The panic, stagnation and spiritual paralysis recede along with the Resurrected Lord. 'Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.'13 The eighth sonnet is a kind of continuation of the previous one. The motifs of the Holy Tree, which collapsed into mud and the soul 'ramifying and forever silent', correspond to taking the Christ down from the Cross, placing Him in the sepulcher and rolling the stone. Probably everything is surrounded by the silence which may bring many things - good or bad as well. In this silence there are joined pain and solace, despair and hope, longing and faith altogether. 1 'Slownik symboli' Wladyslaw Kopalinski; Wiedza Powszechna 1990; p. 141 2 The 'Holy Bible' King James Version; the World Publishing Company; Cleveland and New York; Deuter 17; 1-3, 5 3 Ibid., St. John 8; 3-8 4 Ibid., St. John 8, 52-59 5 ibid., Gen 18; 3-8 6 ibid., St. Luke 22, 15-18 7 ibid., St. John 16; 20, 22-24, 33 8 ibid., Romans 4, 22-25 9 ibid., Romans 8, 31-34 10 ibid., St. John 19, 38-40 11 ibid., Revelation 3; 4-5 12 ibid., I Corinthians 12, 24-26 13 ibid., St. John 20, 19-20 ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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