Nature in Twice Shy by Seamus Heaney
Using nature to express picturesque images, Heaney portrays the purity
of the unspoken terms of love in one of his love poems – “Twice Shy”.
The title of the poem “Twice Shy” seems to have been taken from the
age-old proverb, “once bitten, twice shy”, and we are, as a result,
led to expect that the characters in this poem have had a bitter
experience in the past, therefore they are treading carefully and
attempting to recoup.
There are five stanzas of 6 lines, most lines structured as single
sentences which draw out tension and nervousness. The rhyme scheme is
abcbdb – the rhythmic cadence emphasizes the speaker’s as well as the
characters’ feelings and emotions.
The theme of this poem is personal feelings – the conflict between
needs of the flesh and teaching of society codes of behavior. The idea
behind this poem is simple: a couple, (possibly adolescents), go out
for a walk on a spring evening. However, their good upbringing forces
them to move cautiously, to “preserve classic decorum” and to refrain
from publishing feeling. Primitive love and sexual attraction are keys
to this poem as well.
The setting is cleverly situated – Heaney masterfully interweaves time
and location to provide an precise description of the characters’
thoughts and emotions. He chose the spring (the season of love, or as
the French would put it – la saison de l’amour) to highlight the
thrilling love experience that the characters undergo.
The poem is characterized by personification of the lovers’
surroundings – the atmosphere is sexually charged. Throughout the
poem, Heaney provides a confluence of sentiment through the
characters’ bodies and minds; this is referred to in line 7: “traffic
holding its breath”, which reflects the couple’s...