Poems: Seamus Heaney

Section 2 poetry

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Storm on the Island

'We are prepared' This is a very strong opening statement compared to the last line, 'It is a huge nothing that we fear'.

There is a lot of words about safety and security in the first two lines 'squat, good slate'.                  'Wizened earth' The island is barren and deserted.     'There are no stacks'   This is the first hint of fear in the poem.  The word 'Company is used on line 6 and on line 12 to emphsise the lonliness.

The poem seems more scary because the persona is talking directly to you.      'Pummels'  A violent way of describing the wind.       'Exploding comfortably'  This is an unusual combination of words mixing the idea of fear and safety, they are controdicting each other.

'Spits like a tame cat'  This simile shows how familiar things become frightening during the storm.    'Turn savage, 'Strafes invisibly', ' bombarded'   This language is usually used when referring to the war.     'Sit tight'   all they can do is hopelessly wait for the storm to end.   

'Strafes invisibly, 'empty air', 'its a huge nothing that we fear'    The storm is invisble, there's nothing solid there, this contrasts with the solid rock mentioned in the first two lines of the poem.

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It is half rhyme, regular structure

'Perch, 'water-perch' play on words- two meanings of 'Perch' on the same line.    'Alder-dapple' the trees cast shadow on the water.     'Weaver'  Ambigious words- the way the fish flicker about, as well as reminding us of the waves in the water.

'Grunts', 'Runty' 'ready'   Alliteration and assonence reinforce the idea that the fish look drab and unremarkable.    'I saw and I see'   Memories from the past of watching them.    'Glorified body'  the river is big and impressive

'water-roof'  compound word makes the river sound like a house

The two lines 8 & 9 continues the sentence on the last line, connecting air and water.

'In the everything flows and steady go'  the strange grammer creates the idea of continual flowing movements.

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About Seamus Heaney

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Death of a Naturalist

This poem is about frogs and frog spawn, how a boy who loved nature then when nature goes mad he looses his excitment for it. Its a childs memory- past tense.      Uses no rhyme scheme, structure= free verse.       Anecodote= memory or story from the past

'Festered' This is in the strarting sentance, it sets an unpleasent atmosphere.           'Rotted, weighted down by huge socks' sense of heaviness like a hot, lazy summers day.       'heavy, headed' Alliteration creates more atmosphere.    'Punshing sun' assonence makes these words sound stronger and more important.

'The warm thick slober, grew like clotted water'  Heres that thickness & heaviness again, sensory lanuage.        'Nimble' lighter words show his excitment         'Daddy frog, mammy frog, hundreds of little eggs'. Using childish words because he is talking about when he was an infant.


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Its about admiration and memories about his father and grandfather digging in the fields of potatoes, he feels guilty because he didnt inherit the digging skills-Meloncholy. His father and grandad were the best at digging 'than any other man on Toners bog'.    'Cool hardness'  Tactile language; describing how they feel to touch.   'Just like his old man'  memories of his grandfather diggin, skills passed down from generation to generation

'Nicking and slicing'  Enjabment, verbs mimic the sound of a spade digging.    'Down and down'  this can represent two meanings, digging down in the mud but also digging down through memories.   'Squelch and slap' onomatopeia.

'The cold smell of potato mould'  evocative appears to senses.  'Through living roots awaken in my head' this plays on two meanings, 'roots' in the soil and his family memories.

'But i've no spade to follow men like them'  He hasnt inherited the skills like his father and grandad, he feels guilty about it.  Meloncholy

'i'll dig with it'  Parellel between writing and digging, he uses his pen like a spade to gid out memories and ideas.

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At a potato digging

Its starts with 'A mechanical digger' which sets the scene in the present day.  'a dark shower of roots and mould'  has a double meaning, plant roots and personal history. In this last line of the first stanza it has a cezura, but also 'dead' which is already giving referneces to death.  'like crows'  workers are compared to birds.    

'higgledy, hedge, headland' alliteration gives the impression of all the workers working together in a rhythm.  'heads bow, the black mother. Processional stooping'  Cezura, religious imagery, the workers are worshiping the earth.

'Flint-white, purple' making the potatos sound solid and healthy. 'white as cream' simile.    '(a clean birth)' As if the potatos are being born to mother earth.    'live skulls, blind-eyed' describes the potatos, they have eyes but dont see.   'Wolfed the blighted root and died' a direct reference to what happened during the potato fammine here, so this section is about the past

'Millions rotted along with it'  this could be talking about potatos, or about the famine victims.

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At a potato digging- Continued

'Plucked birds' This contrasts to the people looking like birds in lines 5-39- now the famine is like a bird pecking at their stomachs- or prehaps the birds are eating at the unburnt courpes.

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