Seamus Heaney - poem for the day - Poetry Analysis

Navigating the ‘North’ Collection

Navigating the ‘North’ Collection Foreword Introduction Biographical ‘events’ between 1968-1975 Themes and issues Enrichment Dedications Lexical focus Comments contemporary to Publication Comments from main source authors (as below) Heaney’s further insights The structure of North The North Poems  individual commentaries with footnotes and reflections on style and structure Part I Act Of Union Aisling Antaeus Belderg Bog Queen Bone Dreams Come to the Bower Funeral Rites Hercules and Antaeus Kinship North Ocean’s Love to Ireland Punishment Strange Fruit The Betrothal of Cavehill The Digging Skeleton The Grauballe Man Viking Dublin: Trial Pieces Part II Freedman Singing School 1 The Ministry of Fear 2 A Constable Calls 3 Orange Drums 4 Summer 1969 5 Fosterage 6 Exposure The Unacknowledged Legislator’s Dream Whatever You Say Say Nothing The Seed Cutters Afterthoughts A historical timeline plotting the countdown to the ‘Troubles’ The ‘bog  poems’ and ‘political correctness’ Finding the blend; the  poet’s compositional […read more….]

Foreword (North)

Foreword North published by Faber and Faber in 1975 is Seamus Heaney’s fourth collection. Heaney was in his mid-thirties. The totality of his collections over more than half a century have confirmed Heaney’s place at the top of the premier league of poets writing in English. The textual commentaries that follow seek to tease out what Heaney’s poems are intimating in North. Of course, the poet’s ‘message’ will have started life as an essentially personal one not intended primarily for his reader; there are moments when some serious unravelling is required. Thanks to the depth of Heaney’s knowledge, scholarship and personal feelings, his poetry is rich in content; digging into background-materials is both essential and edifying. In the case of a poet as accomplished, complex and focused as Heaney, the rewards for persevering are at once enriching, fortifying and hugely pleasurable. In a very real sense Heaney both entertains and […read more….]

Afterthoughts (North)

Afterthoughts (North). Countdown to extremes of violence prior to the troubled period 1969 – 75. The following time-line seeks to set out some key dates before concentrating on the period during which North was taking shape. Whilst far from comprehensive it gives an idea of the tensions and fear that might exist on a day-to-day basis punctuated by the incidents listed below. 1801:Act of Union – Ireland and Britain formally united; 1905:Creation of Sinn Fein – a political party with the aim of freeing Ireland from British rule; 1913: Creation of Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) – formed of Protestants who opposed Irish Home Rule; 1916:Easter Uprising Irish Catholics proclaim an Irish Republic in Dublin, brutally suppressed by the British army. The Easter Uprising volunteers become known as the Irish Republican Army; 1920: Partition of Ireland. The 6 northern counties will remain part of the United Kingdom with a parliament in […read more….]

Foreword (District and Circle)

Foreword  (District and Circle). District and Circle is Seamus Heaney’s twelfth collection since Death of a Naturalist (1966), published in April 2006 by Faber and Faber. There are 44 titles including 5 sequences of more than one poem; 68 poems in all. Many had already appeared in some form or other in a variety of publications on both sides of the Atlantic.The volume includes some ‘found prose’ and a number of translations.   Heaney’s work since 1966 has lost none of its accessibility, erudition and vitality. The textual commentaries that follow seek to tease out what his poems are intimating in District and Circle. Of course, the poet’s ‘message’ will have started life as an essentially personal one, not intended primarily for his reader; accordingly, there are moments when some serious unravelling is required. In the case of a poet as accomplished, complex and focused as Heaney, the rewards for […read more….]

Afterthoughts (District and Circle)

Afterthoughts (District and Circle). Finding the blend. The most successful poets share much in common with the best chefs; the latters’ knowledge of the finest products supplemented by a talent that adds the individual flavours of spices, herbs and myriad ingredients in just the right amounts at just the right moment produces the unique, mouth-watering experiences capable of delighting and inspiring those who savour the result. The ‘knowledge’ is gleaned from experience and requires hard work; the ‘talent’ is a gift granted only  to the very few. In these respects Heaney is a craftsman pursuing a similar goal.In District and Circle he is the ‘master-chef’. In some earlier poems, for example North, Viking Dublin and Bone Dreams (from the collection North of 1975), Heaney offered insights into the poetic process as he experienced it. What becomes clear without specific comment from Heaney is that whatever the initial stages in the […read more….]

Foreword (Death of a Naturalist)

Foreword. Death of a Naturalist published by Faber in 1966 is Seamus Heaney’s inaugural collection. These early poems demonstrate accessibility, vitality and talent. Subsequent collections over more than half a century will confirm Heaney’s place at the top of the premier league of poets writing in English. The textual commentaries that follow seek to tease out what Heaney’s poems are intimating in Death of a Naturalist. Of course, the poet’s ‘message’ will have started life as an essentially personal one, not intended primarily for his reader; accordingly, there are moments when some serious unravelling is required. In the case of a poet as accomplished, complex and focused as Heaney, the rewards for persevering are at once enriching, fortifying and hugely pleasurable. There are issues, too, beyond ‘the text, the whole text and nothing but the text’: there is the question of ‘style’, that is, the combination of language and poetic […read more….]

Afterthoughts (Death of a Naturalist)

Death of a Naturalist – Afterthoughts Settings, subject matter and formats Digging Ulster home setting; composed ‘at home’ at The Wood in August, 1964. The poet is seated behind a window pen in hand, in the act of composition. Initial focus on the hand holding his squat pen, the symbolic tool of his poetic trade, contrasts it with the elegance of the spades used by father and grandfather; Heaney has abandoned the family farming tradition by going to University and choosing a different direction in life. 9 stanzas of varying length from 2 to 5 lines (31 lines in total); lines grouped largely around 10 syllables; stanzas end in half lines breaking the rhythm or adding emphasis; the rhyme scheme is equally diverse: starting formally aabbb the poem moves into free verse with the exception of a single distant rhyme; Death of a Naturalist Ulster home setting; lost domain of […read more….]

Foreword (Human Chain)

Seamus Heaney – Human Chain – 2010 Human Chain is Seamus Heaney’s thirteenth collection since Death of a Naturalist in 1966. His work over nearly half a century has lost none of its accessibility, erudition and vitality. The textual commentaries that follow seek to tease out what his poems are intimating in Human Chain. Of course, the poet’s ‘message’ will have started life as an essentially personal one, not intended primarily for his reader; accordingly, there are moments when some serious unravelling is required. In the case of a poet as accomplished, complex and focused as Heaney, the rewards for persevering are at once enriching, fortifying and hugely pleasurable.  There are issues, too, beyond ‘the text, the whole text and nothing but the text’: there is the question of ‘style’, that is, the combination of language and poetic devices deliberately selected by the poet to carry his narrative forward; then there is the matter […read more….]

Afterthoughts (Human Chain)

What is in a title?  Human Chain … Heaney is a master of title, whether for a collection or an individual piece. His sometimes enigmatic, often ingenious headings invite the attentive reader to seek subtly submerged attachments. As regards Human Chain, it emerges that Heaney was carried down the stairs of the accommodation he was sharing with friends when his illness struck en route to the ambulance; he is a hefty six-footer and recognises the physical challenge that this represented. Within a short time he had written Miracle based on a Bible story but featuring the stretcher bearers without whom there would have been no miracle! The metaphor seems to have germinated from this. The Human theme is about body and soul; it is all-encompassing: a personal journey through life is both a chain in itself and part of a wider chain; it features the inevitability, the emotional experiences, memories and sense of loss contingent to the human condition. […read more….]

Seamus Heaney Keywords

Seamus Heaney Poetry. Over half a century Seamus Heaney has developed into perhaps the finest poet writing in the English language. David Fawbert enjoyed the challenge of connecting with the poet’s messages, both manifest and veiled, so much that, as a former Modern Language teacher in Secondary Education, he felt that students of Seamus Heaney’s Poetry, around the globe might appreciate a set approach towards individual poems that would help them unravel both content and style. What follow are the texts themselves grouped according to the collections in which they were published. Textual survey is accompanied by pointers to style and composition. The whole is written so as to be accessible to students whose first language may not be English.