Heaney: Trace The Theme Of Violence

3007 words - 13 pages

“Compare and contrast the thematic of violence in earlier and later Heaney”

“Heaney’s poetry grants sectarian killing in Northern Ireland a historical respectability which is not usually granted in day to day journalism” (Morrison, 68)

Seamus Heaney was born in Derry, Northern Ireland. Derry was a bitterly divided city that soon became to the fore of "the troubles". In the 1970’s Northern Ireland's sectarian divisions hit a new level of extreme and t “the troubles” became violent and dangerous in the early 1970’s. With the change of situation in the North there also came a change in Heaney's writing. His poems seemed to grow more sociological and political as he delved into the troubled psychology of his homelands problems. In 1972 Heaney published "Wintering Out,", this collection is momentous in the works of Heaney as in this we see many references to the troubles. In 1975 still in the midst of the problems Heaney published "North," which was a much more indept analysis on the conflict. Both these publishcations will be examined as part of this essay to look at “theamatic of violence of Heaney’s work in early and later years. We see violence cut across Heaney's pastoral passions and makes him speak out as a citizen of Northern Ireland. Very similar to the First World War poets, who were torn from between an oblivious life and the fields of hell, Heaney's chose to speak out for the citizens affected by the horrors of the troubles.
In recent decades numerous literary critics, historians and political commentators have explored the vexed relationship between violence and Irish literature, with Heaney being a main focus of critism for perhaps a somewhat unbalanced opinion of the troubles. Denis Donoghue stated in his inspiring essay "The Literature of Trouble," that, "It is well
known that much of Irish literature has been provoked by violence, and that images of war soon acquire a symbolic aura in this country” (Donoghue, 186) Heaney was special as he could poetically address the problems Ireland when political and cultural fissures resulted in apparent endless cycles of distrust, oppression and violence. Whereas others criticised Heaney for having an unbalanced view of the troubles. Readership was not affected as we know by Heaney’s sales and rewards but reviewers who might represent these readerships have differed widely in their responses to what the Swedish Academy praised as Heaney’s ‘analysis of the violence in Northern Ireland’.’
Seamus Deane in his works, observes that although “political echoes are audible in Death of a Naturalist and in Door into the Dark, there is no consciousness of politics as such, and certainly no political consciousness until Wintering Out and North” (Deane, 783). Wintering Out is divided in to two sections and is the most poetically complexed of Heaney’s works to date at that time. The book is a vital publication to examine when referring to the theme of violence as it is in this issue we see the emergence...

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