Seamus Heaney - Rilke: After the Fire - Poetry Analysis

Rilke: After the Fire

Rilke: After the Fire. Heaney show-cases a version of a Rilke poem from 1908. The theme is of a man whose past has been destroyed overnight and is suddenly alienated from his environment. Early lyricism introduces personification: startled Early autumn morning hesitated,/ Shying at newness. Nature is conscious of a profound overnight change, an emptiness behind scorched linden trees (the phrase introduces both the fire element and a Germanic context using ‘linden’ for ‘lime’). Whether out of curiosity or concern or for concealment the trees are still crowding in around a home reduced to a shell, now just one more wallstead. Despite its remote location, there are children present: a rabble gathered up from god knows where; uncivilised and wild in a pack. Their presence is not explained. Are we invited to associate them with arson or simple curiosity? They are reduced to silence by the arrival of the son […read more….]