Revision: Storm on the Island by Seamus Heaney

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Storm on the Island by Seamus Heaney
Themes: Nature, Danger, Imagery, Politics
Main ideas:
Describes the effects of a fierce storm on the inhabitants of an island. They prepare for the
storm but once it starts they feel scared.
Deeper meaning: The poem describes how we feel when we are threatened. It talks about;
fear, fright and security in the face of conflict.
Despite the confident start, by the end Heaney admits being afraid: "It is a huge nothing
that we fear". Perhaps this suggests that the ultimate power of the storm is that it is an
unknown quantity. No one knows what the wind will do and what each storm will bring.
Much like the conflict in Ireland.
Structure:
Blank verse: The poem consists of 19 lines of blank verse (unrhyming lines each with 5 beats)
=> looks like natural speech; Heaney is talking directly to the reader. Also, it suggests that
the poet has little control just like in a storm.
Long phrase: "Leaves and branches..." ­ This creates a crescendo just as the "Tragic chorus"
would be in an opera as the tension builds.
Title: It's blunt; there is no article used which suggests that Heaney isn't talking about a
particular storm but many storms and that's it's something that he's used to.
o Stormont is an important location in Northern Ireland politics.
Thoughts and feelings:
Safety:
o "We are prepared..." ­ The community feels safe and prepared for the storm; also
sounds like a comment an army would make in preparation for war. Could be a
reference to the conflict in Ireland; Northern Ireland feels prepared for the conflict.
The line is very ambiguous; it doesn't say what they are prepared for.
Fear:
o "Spits like a tame cat turned savage." ­ Sense of security changes to fear as familiar
things change and become frightening. Links to the troubles in Ireland where
friends became enemies.
Isolation:
o "No natural shelter..." ­ Suggests that the people felt alone during the storm; like
the people felt alone and isolated during the conflicts as they felt they couldn't
trust people.
Helplessness:
o "We just sit tight..." ­ The people can't do anything; all they can do is wait helplessly
for the storm to end. This is a strong contrast to the beginning of the poem. Could
be a reference to how the ordinary people felt during the conflict between Ireland
and Northern Ireland.

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Language:
Direct address: "You know what I mean..." ­ Makes the poem seem scarier as Heaney is
talking directly to you.
Oxymoron: "Exploding comfortably" ­ Mixes the ideas of fear and safety.
Present tense: "But there are no trees..." ­ Creates a sense of drama and reinforces the
idea that storms occur often. Could be a reference to the many years of ongoing fighting in
Ireland.
War-like language: "Space is a salvo. We are bombarded." ­ Used to emphasise the
violence of the storm.…read more

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