Seamus Heaney - An Advancement of Learning - Poetry Analysis

An Advancement of Learning

An Advancement of Learning The poem was written in early 1963 and first published in The Irish Times. It sets out a welling-up of courage that occurred when an instinctively timid person, finding himself with no other options, succeeded in overcoming his natural impulse to run away. The speaker sets out on a familiar river walk. His aside confirms its habitual nature: As always, deferring/ The bridge. His initial focus, whilst standing Hunched over the railing, rests on the river’s textures and the reflections cast upon it: pliable, oil-skinned, wearing/ A transfer of gables and sky. His attention to dirty-keeled swans is overtaken by other squeak-like sounds, expressed hissingly via a stream of sibilants: Something slobbered curtly, close/ Smudging the silence. The poet’s use of synaesthesia to interweave vocabulary of sound and vision reinforces the dread of rats that are too repulsive to face up to. The speaker’s first reaction […read more….]