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GCSE: Seamus Heaney

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  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. Marked by a teacher

    Mid-Term Break: Critical Essay. Heaney reveals his true feelings to us in the poem and makes it real to us by using various techniques. How Heaney achieves this will be the subject of this essay.

    3 star(s)

    Our next clue is that Heaney says that the bells are "knelling" rather than ringing. "Knelling" means the ringing of funeral-like bells, not the ringing of school bells. These clues suggest that someone has died. He emphasizes the effect of these clues by using alliteration. The third clue is that he says he met his "father crying" on the porch. Heaney goes on saying how his father always took "funerals in his stride", which shows that someone has died who is close to his family.

    • Word count: 931
  3. Marked by a teacher

    Commentary on Seamus Heaney's "Scaffolding".

    3 star(s)

    "When they start upon a building / Are careful to test out the scaffolding" depicts the two person's first try to build a friendship. The word "careful" and "test" shows the uneasiness of getting to know a person well at the beginning of the meet due to human's cautious nature. The process towards relationship building is instilled in the next two stanzas.

    • Word count: 502
  4. Marked by a teacher

    Commentary on "Casualty" by Seamus Heaney.

    3 star(s)

    The next line mitigates this desolate feeling through a delightful physical description: "And raise a weathered thumb". This is the first physical description of the drinker and it conveys to us that the drinker may be a hard working laborer. The first few lines of this stanza also convey a feeling of familiarity between the man, the bar, and his drinks. This is done through vivid imagery passed on by precise description: the drinker could order his drinks "without / Having to raise his voice" or with just "a lifting of the eyes". The strength of this imagery draws in the reader so that he/she feels that they are there at the scene.

    • Word count: 2312
  5. Marked by a teacher

    A Comparison Of Trout and Cow in Calf by Seamus Heaney

    3 star(s)

    This gives us an image of the trout being like a gun, not in just the shape of it, but also the destructive quality that a gun has. "slips like butter down/the throat of the river" This is the first use of a simile in the poem, which Heaney uses regularly in this poem. Heaney is comparing the movement of the Trout through the river to the movement of butter down a throat. The word "slips" contains much sibilance, which makes it sound as if the passage of the trout is smooth, without obstruction.

    • Word count: 1516
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. Peer reviewed

    Follower and Digging by Seamus Heaney

    3 star(s)

    Heaney is a little boy in the poem and he looks up to his father in the physical way because his father is tall and strong but he is small and short. "I stumbled in his hob-nailed wake, Fell sometimes on the polished sod"; it brings up the picture of the ploughman's boots and the clumsiness of little Heaney while sometimes his father gives him rides on the back because he could not stand Heaney's awkwardness. Heaney also wants to be exactly like his father and become stronger when he grows up.

    • Word count: 603
  18. Peer reviewed

    The three poems 'On My First Sonne', 'Mid-Term Break' and 'Refugee Mother and Child' all explore the same theme, which are the emotions of love and loss. This conveys a sense of radical grief to the reader.

    3 star(s)

    In the very start of the poem a sense of sorrow is conveyed and some conclusions can be taken. For instance the boy that is in the boarding school is feeling lonely. The mood of the poem can definitely be found in the second line "Counting bells knelling classes to a close". This shows us how unhappy the boy is in the boarding school and it shows us what direction the play is taking, which is a gloomy one. Heaney uses as linguistic devices alliteration and assonance throughout the poem to emphasize the sound of the bells in the funeral and to make the feeling of time passing.

    • Word count: 609
  19. Peer reviewed

    "Compare and Contrast 'Catrin' by Gillian Clarke with 'Digging' by Seamus Heaney

    3 star(s)

    The flowerbeds add pride to where he is digging as it shows it's a place well kept. To me, this scenario is described in a way that is based on an allotment. Seamus Heaney describes where his grandfather digs from stanzas six to eight. "Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods over his shoulder, going down for the good turf." (Stanza 7) I used all of stanza seven as a quote because the words written are all relevant to describe where his grandfather works. It proves that where his grandfather digs differentiated from where his grandfather digs. This also proves that the setting changes due to Seamus Heaney's memories of his father and grandfather.

    • Word count: 1869
  20. Peer reviewed

    Mid-Term Break By Seamus Heaney

    3 star(s)

    He also talks about, "bells knelling", which in itself sums up most of the poem. As well at this he talks about the time and in many peoples minds constantly looking at a clock may be a sign of boredom and impatience. In the next stanza, stanza two, the mood id that of a very serious nature the writer expresses this by using dashes, " in the porch I met my father crying-..." I think he does this to create a solemn pause and also to show how hard it was for him to come to terms with what had happen in the recent time that he was away.

    • Word count: 863
  21. Peer reviewed

    Discuss how Seamus Heaney presents childhood in "Death of a naturalist" and "Mid term break".

    3 star(s)

    The poem opens with an evocation of a summer landscape which has the immediacy of an actual childhood experience. There is also a sense of exploration in "in the heart/Of the townland;" which is consistent with the idea of learning and exploration inevitably leading to discovery and the troubled awareness of experience.It gives a bad image of childhood because you could relate festered in my heart, heavy headed, daily it sweltered in the sun all to humans all too us.

    • Word count: 1528

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