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Aneriza Lim English Commentary Reviewer Setting Character Action Idea Style

An Inside View: A Rural, Irish Perspective The Early Purges Theme: the loss of innocence, The coming of age The poem is about how a Heaney/ Narrator. The kid in the poem witness kittens drown at the age of 6, He also sees other animals gets killed around the farm such as rats, rabbits, crows, and hens. We can see the emphasis of the themes in the poem particularly in the first and the last line o I was six when I first saw kittens die this shows us Heaneys first encounter with kittens being in killed. This line could convey how Heaney was shocked and upset about the event since he just witnessed this as a kid not knowing anything about death and the life span of animals in the farm o But on well run farms pests have to be kept down- the last line of the poem shows us a complete opposite in view to when the poem was opened. In the last line we could see how Heaney has coped up with the reality of death. As Heaney got older he was able to accept death as to his 6 year old self.

Digging Theme: sensual love for his native ground Similar to follower , but ha a much looser structure, looks at 2 memories his father and grandfather Heaney Justifies his decisions to become a poet rather than a farmer We would keep the Irish agricultural traditions alive through his writing, he sees himself as the voice of Irish culture Heaney metaphorically compares his pen to the spade of his forefathers. He will dig through his memories, and through writing he will explore his own history and that of Ireland. He vows to preserve agricultural traditions by capturing them in poetry rather than becoming his father Heaney Challenges the stereotype of being a farmer, he states that being an Irish Farmer shows the dignity in their labor by praising and remembering his grandfather. He also sees their sense of work ethic, his father digs at an old age, grandfather when he was working he can barely stop to drink The poem ends by seeing the pen as a weapon for digging, its a shovel for memories The squat pen rests. Ill dig with it. Then fell to right away/ Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods/ over his shoulder, going down and down/ For the goof turf. Digging.

Heaney describes his grand father at work on the farm( a memory from his childhood) He describes his grandfathers skill and precision as a farmer ; he mirrored his own expertise as a writer/ poet to choose exact verbs to recreate the scene so precisely But ive no spade to follow men like them Heaney suggest a sense of guilt or remorse that he cannot follow in the family tradition of farming Between my finger and my thumb/ The squat pen rests. Ill dig with it Heaney resolves his guilt by vowing to continue the rural traditions of Ireland in his poetry, instead.
Digging, the first poem of his first collection, Death of a Naturalist (1966), is quoted in almost every discussion of Heaneys work for its prescient statement of the themes that would dominate his poetry: his sensual love of his native ground; his fascination with work and all kinds of tools; his vision of poetry as a traditional, laborious, and sustaining craft, like farming.

The most important thing about Digging, however, is that it takes the form of a promise, a commitment from the poet to his father and grandfather, whose lives were spent literally digging the soil. Heaney acknowledges that he is not a farmer, and will not follow their vocation. But at the start of his career, he vows to translate their virtues into another kind of work: The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge Through living roots awaken in my head. But Ive no spade to follow men like them. Between my finger and my thumb The squat pen rests. Ill dig with it.

Bogland 1969-1970 early 70s, first bog body poem This is one of the first collection of poems which explores the Irish bogs Bogs became the symbol for the whole of Ireland. This is the start of Heaney really digging into the darkness; he explores the past showing that the bog can preserve things for millions of years. The bogs come to represent deep areas of memory and history, exposing cycles of nature, as nature starts and finishes in the bog. In this poem Heaney describes an archaeologist digging through the bog and finding many things : The Great Irish Elk, butter, waterlogged trunks/ of great firs rich valuable wealth that is discovered in the Bog Such as men digging for turf are digging through history, mythology and folklore

Bog body poems the bog has kept even greater secrets perfectly preserved. The bog bodies help Heaney explore Irish conflicts as he looks to the past to understand the future The earliest bog poem, appropriately entitled Bogland, is more nationalistic and more about the essence of Ireland than the later poems, which are more deeply concerned with mythical associations, with the connection between violence and religion. The beginning of the poem sets the nationalistic tone clearly as the possessive pronoun we is used more than once, to convey a sense of unity with the land. In the first lines "we have no prairies/To slice a big sun at evening", what is ostensibly a negative statement of absence is turned into a positive assertion, as Heaney speaks of "our unfenced country" and "encroaching horizon". At the same time the poem emphasizes the layers of the land, layers of history bog that keep crusting in continuous expansion, so that the land seems to stretch forever, endless in both horizontal and vertical dimensions. The bog is in layers, each layer a page of history, yet like the encroaching horizon, it at first reveals nothing, seems a statement of absence. The poem establishes the bog as the source of all Irish memory and ancestry, linking the present to the past through the constancy of the land, as "butter sunk under/more than a hundred years/ was recovered salty and white". The ground conserves rather than destroys, not the realm of fire but of water "theyll never dig coal here/only the waterlogged trunks of great firs". The land is "itself...kind, black butter", revealing its secrets as it is "melting and opening underfoot." This brings in the motif of digging and exploration, "our pioneers keep striking/Inwards and downwards" which again in the use of the word pioneers connects to America, while it relates to a tradition of Irish poets to the diggers, bringing treasures to light. The poem ends with a reference to something greater, to Northwest Europe, perhaps the seed of the myth of the North in the later bog poems. There is a suggestion of a continuous enrichment, as "every layer they strip/seems camped on before", emphasizing again the metaphor of the bog as history, the memory of the landscape. The Atlantic seepage and the wet center is a reiteration of an earlier point "theyll never dig coal here" the earth is preserving and not consuming, but this is connected to a larger pattern here, in an exploration attempting to find a core, a final center but conceding that this center is bottomless. The poem conceives the past as a dimension to be explored dynamically rather than simply received, constructed from a drive to establish a connection between forces shaping a nations consciousness. At the heart of the poem, beyond the overlapping of the past and present, is the timelessness of nature.

Estrangement: Distance from the background Mid-term Break Theme: coming of age Shocking family tragedy, he was forced to grow up. He lost his 4 year old brother, the loss of his childhood innocence due to the exposure of death and brutality of the world The title suggest a holiday but the break does not happen for pleasant reasons Snowdrops/ and candles soothed the bedside Heaney describes how people need ceremony and ritual to soothe the pain of loosing a loved one No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear/ a four foot box, a foot for every year the painful event of losing his brother, the brother died due to a car accident, he can tell that the brothers age by the size of the box

Follower The title of the poem is ambiguous- it shoes how Heaney followed his father literally and metaphorically The child sees farming as simply imitating his father's actions (close one eye, stiffen my arm), but later learns how skilled the work is He recalls his admiration of his father then; but now his father walks behind (this metaphor runs through the poem). Effectively their positions are reversed. His father is not literally behind him, but the poet is troubled by his memory: perhaps he feels guilt at not carrying on the tradition of farming, or feels he cannot live up to his father's example. The poem has several developed metaphors, such as the child's following in his father's footsteps and wanting to be like him. The father is sturdy while the child falls - his feet are not big enough for him to be steady on the uneven land. There are many nautical references: The father's shoulders are like the billowing sail of a ship. The sod rolls over without breaking (like a wave). The child stumbles in his wake and dips and rises on his father's back. Mapping the furrow is like navigating a ship. In these images the farmer is not shown as simple but highly skilled.

Personal Helicon I rhyme/ To see myself, to set the darkness echoing here Heaney summaries his reasons for writing; he writes poetry in order to inwards at himself and his history. He is willing to explore the darkness negative elements of himself this will lead him on the explore the darkness of Ireland which is its brutal and violent past and present

By the end of his first collection, Heaney feels he knows why he writes; to express himself, and at the same time to explore the whole Irish culture and history Helicon mythical place to get inspiration The poem Person Helicon by Seamus Heaney is a curious and thoughtprovoking work about a childs fascination with wells. On the surface, the poem is very straight forward. The narrator is recalling a childhood spent exploring wells and old pumps however, like most poems; Personal Helicon has a deeper meaning. A lot of the depth in this poem can be seen just from examining the title. Helicon, a mountain situated in Boeotia, Greece, was celebrated in Greek mythology because of the two springs that were located there. The springs were said to be the source of poetic inspiration and they were very sacred to the muses, the gods and goddesses who inspire literature and art. This suggests that the poem Personal Helicon is about Heaneys own inspiration for his writing. The poem talks about wells and mentions dark drops, reflections, and echoes which could signify that Heaney gets the inspiration for his work from himself. His poems are a reflection of himself and, by looking deep into his soul just as the narrator of the poem looks into wells; he is able to find the motivation and vision necessary to create his literary works. This meaning is furthered through several lines in the poem. The words When you dragged out long roots from the soft mulch a white face hovered over the bottom, for example, could be referring to the narrator tracing back the roots of his family tree to discover his own identity. Another line others had echoes, gave back your own call with a clean new music in it could mean that Heaney sees poetry as a way of restating his thoughts and emotions in a more beautiful and musical way. Even the last line of the poem, I rhyme to see myself, to set the darkness echoing, could be saying that the author uses poetry as a way to discover himself and to gain insight. The poem could also be about coming of age and the transition for childhood into adulthood. In the last few lines of the poem the author mentions that exploring wells is beneath all adult dignity therefore the poem could be about childhood innocence and how the simplicity of youth is lost when a person grows up. Or the meaning could be just as simple and straightforward as meets the eye- a man remembering a favourite childhood pastime and reminiscing about the good old days. Whatever the meaning Heaney intended for the audience to take away, the poem remains just as mysterious and intriguing. It forces the audience to think and ask questions and is captivating from start to finish.

Unflinching Honesty: relationship, death, and life Blackberry Picking Theme: the loss of innocence

This poem gives a vivid account of picking blackberries. But it is really about hope and disappointment (how things never quite live up to our expectations) and blackberry picking becomes a metaphor for other experiences. In the first half of the poem Heaney describes the picking - from the appearance of the first fruit to the frenzy of activity as more fruit ripens. The second half of the poem concerns the attempt to preserve the berries - always a failure, as the fungus set in and the fruit fermented. (Now that many people in the west have freezers, this problem is solved. But do many young people still go to pick blackberries?) In the first section Heaney presents the tasting of the blackberries as a sensual pleasure - referring to sweet flesh, to summer's blood and to lust. He uses many adjectives of colour (how many can you find?) and suggests the enthusiasm of the collectors, using every available container to hold the fruit they have picked. There is also a hint that this picking is somehow violent - after the blood comes the claim that the collectors' hands were sticky as Bluebeard's (whose hands were covered with the blood of his wives). The lusciousness of the fresh fruit contrasts with what it quickly becomes fur and rat-grey fungus, as lovely canfuls smell of rot. The poem is set out in iambic pentameter couplets with half rhyme. Like many of Heaney's poems it is full of monosyllabic nouns: clot, knot, cans, pots, blobs, pricks, byre, fur, cache, bush, flesh and rot (there are others). The poem has a clear structure - the two sections match the two stages of the poet's thought. This poem is ambiguous in its viewpoint, too. We see the view of a frustrated child in I...felt like crying and It wasn't fair, but a more detached adult view in the antithesis of Each year I hoped they'd keep, knew they would not. The poem looks at a theme that is as old as poetry itself - the transitoriness of pleasure (how good things do not last), and relates it to a familiar childhood experience. Heaney suggests that what is true of blackberries may be true of good things generally. But this is argument by analogy. Nowadays we can preserve our fruit by freezing it - so does this mean that hopes are not disappointed after all? How far is this poem about something particular or about life in general?

Explain how the poem contrasts ideas of expected pleasure and disappointment. Does this poem give the viewpoint of a child or an adult or both? Can you explain why Heaney, in the last line, says that he hoped for something, even though he knew it would not happen?

Death of a naturalist Theme: the loss of innocence This poem is similar to Blackberry-Picking in its subject and structure here, too, Heaney explains a change in his attitude to the natural world, in a poem that falls into two parts, a sort of before and after. But here the experience is almost like a nightmare, as Heaney witnesses a plague of frogs like something from the Old Testament. You do not need to know what a flax-dam is to appreciate the poem, as Heaney describes the features that are relevant to what happened there - but you will find a note below. Click here to see this explanation. In the first section, the poet notes the festering in the flax-dam, but can cope with this familiar scene of things rotting and spawn hatching. Perhaps, as an inquisitive child he felt some pride in not being squeamish - he thinks of the bubbles from the process as gargling delicately. He is confident in taking the frogspawn - he does it every year, and watches the jellied specks become fattening dots then turn into tadpoles. He has an almost scientific interest in knowing the proper names (bullfrog and frogspawn) rather than the teacher's patronizing talk of daddy and mammy, and in the idea of forecasting the weather with the spawn. (Not really very helpful, since you can see if it is raining or sunny by direct observation - no need to look at the frogspawn.) The second section appears like a punishment from offended nature for the boy's arrogance - when he sees what nature in the raw is really like, he is terrified. This part of the poem is ambiguous - we see the horror of the plague of frogs, obscene and gathered...for vengeance, as it appeared to the young boy. But we can also see the scene more objectively - as it really was. If we strip away the effect of imagination, we are left with a swarm of croaking amphibians. This may bring out a difference between a child in the 1940s and a child in the west today. The 21st century child knows all about the frogs' habitat and behaviour from wildlife documentaries, but has never seen so many frogs at close range in real life. The young Heaney was used to seeing nature close up, but perhaps never got beyond the very simple account of mammy and

daddy frogs. The teacher presents the amphibians as if they were people. The arrival of the frogs is like a military invasion - they are angry and invade the dam; the boy ducks through hedges to hide from the enemy. Like firearms, they are cocked, or they are poised like mud grenades (a grenade is a hand-bomb - the frogs, in colour and shape, resemble the Mills Hand Bomb, used by British soldiers from the Great War to modern times). The poem has some echoes of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner- in a shorter and more comic version: the would-be naturalist is, like the mariner, revolted by slimy things; the Ancient Mariner learns to love them as God's creatures. Heaney indulges in a riotous succession of disgusting descriptions: gross-bellied, slap and plop, obscene threats (suggesting swear words), farting and slime kings. Wordsworth suggests that poets should use everyday language. In this poem, Heaney uses terms we do not expect to see in poetry, and presents nature as the very opposite of beautiful.

Ambivalence: Relationship to Irish Nationalism and the struggles Requiem for the croppies In this poem Heaney tell us the story of part of the rebellion of 1798 in which catholic rebels met English soldiers in the Battle of vinegar hill. This poem Heaney refers specifically to a particular event from Irish History They Buried us without shroud or coffin/ and in august the barely grew up out of the grave- this suggest the cyclical nature of violence: just as the crops grow annually, Heaney anticipates another catholic uprising He sees the catholic defiance at vinegar hill as the seed for future rebellion Heaney tells the story of the 1798 rebellion though the voice of a random dead croppy boy and, therefore, the rebel's point of view. The poem is written in sonnet form - 14 lines - but with no division into stanzas. The poem describes the struggle the Irish rebels had to undergo. Heaney focuses on the old-fashioned weapons - pike, scythes - the rebels used.

The rebels also used herds of cattle to stampede into the lines of British solders. The poem shows how the rebels used clever tactics to attack the superior army. The rebels included priests, tramps, and farmers. A priest, Father John Murphy, led the rebellion in Wexford. The first line and the last line both mention barley, the food that sustained the rebels and grew out of their unmarked graves. The setting of the last lines of the poem is Vinegar Hill where the rebels were defeated. Vinegar Hill in Wexford was the site of the battle in which the rebels were defeated. By describing the hillside as "blushing", Heaney expresses the vast amount of blood that was shed The rebels who died were buried without a coffin or even a shroud.

Relationship to violence Strange Fruit Final poem about a bogy body Refers to a greek historian from 1st century AD, who recorded his reactions to murder and violence commenting that with each atrocity he became more desensitized Heaney worries that the present day community is becoming used to the present day sectarian violence. The events of the past are linked with the present day, as in so many of Heaneys poem