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Commentary on "Tollund Man" by Seamus Heaney

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Introduction

Tollund Man The poem, the Tollund man is one from Heaneys bog poems. The tollund man is a victim in Jutland that was sacrificed to the godess Nerthus, the godess of germination, to secure good crops. Heaney creates a connection with Ireland and Jutland and also contributes his own beliefs and views. One of the main features noticed in the poem is his obsession for detail and the Tollund man itself. He uses very descriptive words, thus showing his connection and the depths of what he feels towards the tollund man. For example, he describes the tollund man precisely with words such as ?peat brown head?, ?mild pods of his eye lids? , ?pointed skin cap?,? these are words that evoke pity. Heaney tries to show how this sacrifice is unfair and in a way, ugly. ...read more.

Middle

The structure and lack of caesura and rhyme scheme also gives the poem a less consistent flow and contributes to the distant, captivated, tone in the poem. The syntax used .. The alliteration.. The reader may find the themes of religion, earth and fertility surrounds the poem. Religion is shown very strongly by references to christianity and the way old rituals and beliefs are shown. References to chriistianity include the visual imagery of the tollund man having ?his last gruel of winter seeds caked in his stomach?, this may be a reference to the last supper jesus had, it also shows the amount of detail heaney gets to. Another reference is the line ?those dark juices working him to a saints kept body?, this showing the tollund man as an idea of holyness and perfection. ...read more.

Conclusion

Heaneys sensitivity towards this is brought out in the last stanza especially. He feels ?lost, unhappy and at home?. This being the main paradox of the poem, it is a sentimental line and it is indeed ironic that he feels unhappy being at home. He feels somehow, isolated from his own country and lonely. This is shown by how he lists the names of bodies that were found and feels a sense of ?sad freedom? which is an oxymoron that shows how the speaker feels. Another theme found is nature. There are many earthly elements found. For example, the visual imagery of the ?peat brown head?, this showing how closely inclined Heaney, being brought up in Ireland, was to nature and how it is important in Jutland just as it was in Ireland. The theme of fertility is also brought out in the poem. ...read more.

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