Postscript

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  • Postscript
    • In the poem “Postscript” by Seamus Heaney, the speaker describes an experience with a natural landscape in order to illustrate how experiences can evoke feelings that overwhelm us with their transcendent beauty and leave us speechless.
      • Finding words for the beautiful, sublime, uplifting moments can be difficult when encountering such places, and even though the speaker leaves space for the ineffable, the poem makes the reader feel as though they have received a glimpse of something true, a valuable piece of advice about how to move through the world.
    • The title “Postscript” as well as the opening line “And some time to make the time to drive out west”, suggests that this poem is an extension, an after-thought, of another detailed account of a journey through the Irish countryside.
      • The poem is an informal verse paragraph joining a detailed account of an experience in which the speaker took a “drive out west / Into County Clare, along the Flaggy Shore” (lines 1-2), with a reflection of what he experienced and advice on how to create your own version of something
        • The poem describes a specific place “Flaggy Shore” (line 2) at a specific time of year “September or October” (line 3), in which the speaker recognizes the fact that experience is based upon a brief combination of elements that make a moment unique.
          • Throughout the poem the speaker draws on a number of elements such as “wind” (line 3), “light” (line 4), the “ocean” (line 5), “swans” (line 8), and the overall landscape in order to illustrate the rich but surprising moment in which all of these united to stun and thrill the speaker.
    • The sharp impact of the flock of swans on the speaker’s eye is due to the contrasting background to which they are set against.
      • The speaker describes the bright white of the swans on the “surface of a slate-grey lake” (line 7) as “earthed lightening” (line 8), which mirrors that of the white “foam and glitter” (line 6) from the ocean on the other side of the car.
        • The speaker dwells on the swans and takes note of the swans “fully-grown headstrong-looking heads” (line 10). This description illustrates how the speaker saw the swans as mature looking, and in a way, full of pride.
          • The speaker personifies the swans as he equates them with human characteristics, and places emphasises on the fact that they are strong willed creatures that are not to be governed by anything but themselves.
    • The way in which the speaker depicts the different actions that they are doing with their heads, “Tucked or cresting or busy underwater” (line 11), indicates how individual the natures of these swans are.
      • Through the depiction of the swans, the speaker is trying to augment his notion of the uniqueness of such moments and experiences. Furthermore, this description and imagery created of the swans indicates that the speaker saw this as a magical moment, one that cannot be “captured”
    • The speaker suggests that it is vital to keep moving, and to accept the experience in motion. The reader emphasises this point of being in motion, by stating that “You are neither here nor there” (line 13), you are moving.
      • The last few lines also illustrate the speaker’s point that by being alert you can experience both strange and familiar things as you move past them. However, a paradox lies in the fact that the speaker is telling the reader to “hurry” (line 14) through the experience, but on the other hand he wants the reader “to make time” (line 1) to capture this kind of experience.

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