Seamus Heaney- Poems

All notes on sections for seamus heaney poems.

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  • Created by: Serena
  • Created on: 12-04-11 18:10

Storm on the island


Uses many language techniques such as similies " Spits like a tame cat" and metaphors. The title is blunt and explicit, Its written in present tense and in first person plural. The poem begins confident "We are prepared". He speaks in a friendly tone to draw us in and uses common conversational tags- "as you see" . Despit the confident start by the end of the poem Heaney admits being afraid "It is a huge nothing we fear" .


The earth is personified "It has never troubled us" - us with crops, as if it is a considerate friend who wanted to spare them the trouble of harvesting. The absent trees are personified too: they are not there to provide the company of a tragic chorus during the storm. Heaney expects us to imagine the sea "exploding comfortably" - Seems like a contradiction.The similie of " a tamed cat/turned savage" to illustrate what the sea is really like. The wind is seen as a metaphor as an enemy plane "dives/ and strafes". Sound- There is some alliteration to create affects. The strength of the house is reinforced with "rock and roof". 


Ninteen lines blank verse- unrhyming. The verse form follows the natural pattern of spoken english, so we feel that Heaney is talking to us.


The destructive power of nature, uneasy relationship to powerful natural forces. 

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Death of a naturalist


In the first land he uses the word "festered" which sets an unpleasent atmosphere. Uses aliteration alot  to create more atmosphere "heaby headed", "Blue bottles", "Coarse croaking". Onomatopeia used which strengthens the atmosphere- "slap and plop". "The spawn would clutch it" shows the boy's fear. Uses childish words "mammy frog" "daddy frog" because hes talking about when he was an infant. 


Lines 1- 10 decribes the dam. Lines 11-15- the poets excitement and enthusiasm for the frogs and dam. Lines 15-21- infant teachers fairy sort approach to it all. Line 21- change happens . Lines 22-30- describes poet discovering the scary adult frogs. Lines 31- 33- describes the poets disgust and fear.There is no rhyme scheme and written in two sections with a change of direction in the secound one. It can show this by lines 21-22 being shorter than the rest. 


Uses memory of what he learnt when he was a child and nature and how it changes through diffrent stages. 

2 of 4



The title is blunt, once read you find out three generations are involved, heaney is digging up his memories and his past. Poem begins in present tense, describing his elderly father straining among the flower beds, goes into past tense- remembers his father and grandfather working together. Last two stanzas present where heaney relises his work isto write. He uses techincal terms to stress that the spade is a precise tool. Uses the repetition of "old man" shows affection of grandfather and father for heaney too. Heaney explains there is "no spade to follow men like them" - shwoing he feels like hes not as strong as them, not emotionally equipped for it. 


Opening similie "snug as a gun" - shows how well suited heaney is to write. The enjambment between secound and thirs dtanza is dramatic. The last stanza repeats opening lines, the pen becomes a metaphorical spade.


Consits of nine stanzas, there is no pattern- which might reflect the idea that there is no pattern or predictibility to our memories.

Theme- Memorys 

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At a potato digging


"roots" has a double meaning- plant roots and personal history. "dead" there are already refrences to death. "like crows" workers are compared to birds. The alliteration gives the impression of the potato diggers all working together " higgledy line from hedge to headland" . Theres lots of religious imagery here- the diggers are worshipping the earth. "heads bow". The descriptions of the potatoes make them sound solid and healthy. "LIve skulls, blind- eyes has been repeated twice the first time was describing the potatoes but the secound time is now reffering to real skulls. "Millions rotted among it" Could be talking about the potatoes or about the famine victims. "Stinking potatoes fouled the land"- gives you a pretty horrible picture of the rotting potatoes. 


In section 3 is when theres lots of imagery showing the good pebbles being described as pebbles and stone making them sound solid and healthy in contrast to the rotted ones during the famine. 


Section 1- desciption of present day digging and collecting potatoes. Section 2- Descriptions of potatoes themselves. Section 3- Potato famine. Section 4 positive picture of modern day workers. Divided into 4 sections- some rhyme scheme which makes it formal. 

Theme- Nature and memories

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Got the important ones but cuts out half of it


It's really good but i can only see half of the content i can't scroll down to see the rest. Is that normal or??

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