Seamus Heaney - For the Commander of the Eliza - Poetry Analysis

For the Commander of the Eliza

For the Commander of the Eliza Heaney pursues the theme of Irish suffering at the hands of the British government in Whitehall, London, painting a dark picture unrelieved by any chink of light. He describes an incident that exemplifies the poem’s epigraph and illustrates the reasons why a burning sense of injustice might continue to exist within the Irish psyche over 120 years later. The initial voice and responses are those of the commander of a British Coast-Guard vessel in the late 1840’s. Whilst the ship’s presence in the bay is routine, the presence of an Irish rowing-boat unusually far beyond the creek is sufficient to arouse suspicion. His challenge, addressed in Gaelic, is enough to halt its progress as he seeks to discover the rowers’ motive for being there guilt or bashfulness. What he discovers, as a self-confessed ‘christian’ (O my sweet Christ) both shocks and appals him: six […read more….]