Seamus Heaney - poetry themes - 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….]

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….]

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….]

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….]

A Herbal

A Herbal A sequence of 19 short poems, the longest 15 lines, imitating the work of a 20th century Breton poet. The foreword’s after suggests that Heaney, in addition to the poetic shape and form of the genre, may be offering his version of lines from the original.  The sequence produces plants with human voices, emotions and characteristics operating in natural context. Heaney is intimately involved as translator and communicator.  1 Heaney stresses a paradox: Nature is eternally self-renewing, growing thick wherever it may Flourish; mankind is mortal and consigned ultimately to graves. The different strata of earth beneath cemeteries in general (Everywhere) are a kind of time-line of past generations, from whom the plants gain their nourishment, Sinking their roots/ In all the dynasties/ Of the dead. alliteration: dynasties/ Of the dead   2 Questions arise as to how different Irish cemeteries in particular, In our place, might be and whether churchyard grass, enriched by human remains, […read more….]