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GCSE: Seamus Heaney

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  • Marked by Teachers essays 5
  • Peer Reviewed essays 17
  1. Marked by a teacher

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

    4 star(s)

    The poem is written from an adult perspective, although it has many childlike phrases in it. It is about Heaney's summer ventures with his friends during which they would collect blackberries in "milk-cans, pea-tins, jam-pots". It is an elegy, mourning the spiritual death of childhood. The poem is also an extended metaphor. The beginning is about childhood, seeing the world as a child. However there are associations made with adulthood throughout the first stanza eg: "like thickened wine." This implies that adulthood is always near, that it is creeping up on the poet. The second stanza is a metaphor for the adult world, and its disappointments.

    • Word count: 2314
  2. Peer reviewed

    Follower by Seamus Heaney

    5 star(s)

    This is made clear by the poet's careful choice of words. 'His eye narrowed and angled at the ground, mapping the furrows exactly.' These words effectively suggest his father's skill and precision. We are also told that young Heaney 'stumbled in his hob-nailed wake,' which brings to our mind a picture of the ploughman's heavy boots, the carefully ploughed furrow and the child's clumsy enthusiasm. The poet uses onomatopoeic words to capture the details of his father as he works the plough.

    • Word count: 857
  3. Peer reviewed

    Compare 'Digging' and 'Follower' by Seamus Heany

    4 star(s)

    Therefore, this suggests that the idea of 'digging' represents Heaney digging though his past and him digging into the English language to say and express what he wants to say, as words are now his tool. Heaney uses change in tense in 'Follower' to indicate his change in views and ideas. When he remembers about his father and grandfather at work he goes into the past tense but the last two stanzas return to the present. This suggests that his life on the farm as a child is in his past and he has a new life.

    • Word count: 762
  4. Peer reviewed

    Death Of A Naturalist comment on how appropriate the title, "Death of a Naturalist", is and comment on how it changes meaning.

    4 star(s)

    It's something he does every year and watches the "jellied-specks" become "fattening dots" then turn into tadpoles. He almost has a scientific interest in knowing the proper names ("bullfrog" and "frogspawn") rather than the teachers patronising talk of "daddy" and "mammy". Especially the idea of forecasting the weather by looking at the frogspawn because it's not very helpful as it is blatantly obvious if it is sunny or raining and so there is no need to look at the frogspawn. Seamus Heaney uses onomatopoeia more lavish here than in any poem - and many of the sound are very in delicate: "gargled", "slap and plop" and "farting".

    • Word count: 533
  5. Peer reviewed

    Death of a naturalist

    4 star(s)

    The child's natural speaking voice comes across in line 8; "But best of all". The vividness of his description is achieved through Heaney's use of images loaded with words that lengthen the vowels and have a certain weightiness in their consonants; "green and heavy-headed Flax had rotted there, weighted down by huge sods." The sound of the insects which, "Wove a strong gauze of sound around the smell" is conveyed by the 's' and 'z' sounds but also, importantly, acts like a bandage preventing the spread of decay.

    • Word count: 871
  6. Peer reviewed

    Sunil Mirpuri

    4 star(s)

    Heaney gives this fossil life through his diction by describing the state she was in when they dug her up. Heaney starts the poem using words like "tug," "halter," "nape," "neck," and "naked" in order to immediately establish a dark and gruesome yet depressing tone. Heaney's desire is to make the reader feel an emotion of sympathy towards the York Girl. He uses very penetrating adjectives such as "amber beads" and "frail rigging" to quickly establish this sympathetic tone. As the poem moves on, the reader notices the narrator's change in attitude and feeling towards the York Girl as he begins to describe her in an admiring manner.

    • Word count: 944
  7. Peer reviewed

    The poem 'My First Sonne'was written by Ben Jonson. 'The poem is a first hand experience from the father, which his one and only son died. In the poem 'Mid-Term Back' written by Seamus Heaney, the author focuses

    4 star(s)

    The 'poppy' is an image of young life lost. It's a strong metaphor as the poppy is a mark of respect for those who died in the war, unusual death of a young child. The 'poppy' is classed as a wild random growing flower, so it suggests that the death was a shock. The poem shows a clear sign of sadness, 'My father's crying'. Its hard for the older brother to cope with seeing his father cry because his finding the death hard to cope with. The family support and comforts each other.

    • Word count: 797
  8. Peer reviewed

    Compare the poems 'Mid-Term Break' by Seamus Heaney and ' 'Out Out- ' ' by Robert Frost

    4 star(s)

    This contrasts with 'Mid-Term Break' as it doesn't focus on the aftermath of an accident but the accident itself. Robert Frost spends the first third of his poem describing the scenery and setting the scene before going on to tell us about a young boy finishing a day's work. The focus is always on the buzz saw. As the young boy's sister calls 'Supper' he turns away for a moment. This brief lack of concentration leads to him incurring a terrible injury in his hand.

    • Word count: 5246
  9. Peer reviewed

    How Do You Respond To Mid-Term Break? What techniques does Heaney use? Having read the title 'Mid-Term Break', I assumed that the poem

    4 star(s)

    The first stanza is telling us that the boy is away from home, isolated, upset and waiting. It is made up of short sentences to build up tension and create shock as though the reader is expecting something to happen. One phrase that struck me was 'our neighbors drove me home'. This suggested to me that something had happened as usually a student's parents take them to and from school. We then find out that the father, apparently always strong at other funerals, is distraught, while the mother is too angry to cry.

    • Word count: 748
  10. Peer reviewed

    How does Heaney explore the issues of background and identity in his early poems, Digging and Follower?

    4 star(s)

    Between my finger and my thumb The squat pen rests; snug as a gun. Digging presents a good example of a parallel between the tactile and metaphorical. The first two-line stanza 'earths' the poem to the poet - using direct, simple, striking language. "Gun" particularly draws the reader's attention; it is aggressive and monosyllabic. Heaney remembers the way his father, a farmer, dug for potatoes - using description appealing heavily to the senses. Although this particular memory can be seen as simple, or trivial, it is through these every-day activities that the roots of the present grow into - the past 'earth' that is made up by seemingly dull daily chores.

    • Word count: 789
  11. Peer reviewed

    How does Seamus Heaney present his childhood in the poems "Follower" and "Mid-Term Break".

    4 star(s)

    The title "Mid-Term Break" is very ironic. The reader is at once tricked into believing that the poem will be about Heaney's happy memories from his school holidays. This is not so as the poem is actually about how Heaney is going home to the funeral of his brother: A quite sad and dramatic event in his childhood. "Follower" and "Mid-Term Break" are both about Heaney and his relationship with his family. The poem "Follower" describes his relationship with his father.

    • Word count: 741
  12. Peer reviewed

    Consider how Seanus Heany provides us with a view of his childhood in the following poems: Digging, Death of a Naturalist follower, blackberry picking, The barn and mid term break

    4 star(s)

    His first poem in the Death of a Naturalist is very important. The purpose of it is to symbolise and introduce his circumstances. 'Between my finger and thumb the squat pen rests'. Look at this first sentence. It is telling you he is a writer. He is telling you that the pen rests. This means that he is comfortable with it. In a way he is saying that the pen belongs in his hand. Then he goes on to write 'snug as a gun'. A gun is a weapon. Something used for destruction which poetry is not. But, If you look closer you can see that maybe the pen has destroyed something.

    • Word count: 935

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?
  • Compare the different memories o f childhood presented in "Mid Term Break" and "In Mrs Tilschers Class"

    "In conclusion both of these poems deal with childhood memories. Heaney's' poem is more sad and we learn it effects him emotionally. Duffy's poem is an experience I think we all go through and we can deal with. I prefer 'Mid Term Break' as it affected me more emotionally as I can not sympathise with him. I think the poem is written really well as he builds up the tension that he felt. Jade schofield"

  • Compare and Contrast 'Death of a Naturalist', ' An Advancement of Learning' and ' The Early Purges'

    "In conclusion, the main similarities between the three poems are in the language used. By this I mean that of particular phrases such as war words and the usage of similes and alliteration and the fact that they are all about animals and fear. The main differences are that "The Early Purges" is a different structure to the other two poems. I have learnt about parts of Seamus Heaney's childhood and his coping with fear. I have also learnt different techniques to use in poems, for example alliteration. I have enjoyed the excitement Heaney builds up in each poem. My favourite poem is "An Advancement of Learning" because I can understand and picture everything Heaney describes. Also it is my most preferred poem due to the fact I can relate to confronting a fear and not having a path to turn to and then the fear swam away from me, so I can relate to the story."

  • Compare one poem by Seamus Heaney and one poem by Gillian Clarke to show how they use imagery to create effects.

    "CONCLUSION Both the poems, Mali and Blackberry Picking convey a strong message and meaning to the poem. The poem Mali is about a child's 3rd birthday, so naturally it is going to be a special occasion for her. I think Mali was written because it was such a special day for Gillian and it meant so much to her. In my opinion, I think Mali is a very effective poem. The many feelings and emotions conveyed in the poem, along with the poetic devices, especially imagery, make it a very interesting poem to read. The poem Blackberry Picking is about a past experience that Seamus had of blackberry picking. I think he wrote this because he feels that the memories of blackberry picking were very special to him and he wants to remember them. I think blackberry picking is also a very effective poem. The details of the blackberry picking are very well explained by his especially good use of vivid imagery and the other poetic devices in the poem. Edward Jones"

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