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The Poetry Of Seamus Heaney Essay

2068 words - 8 pages

The Poetry of Seamus HeaneyFrom my exploration of the prescribed poetry by the renowned scholar, Seamus Heaney, I think it is obvious to the readership that Heaney is introducing the theme of 'The Troubles' in Ireland in his poetry. Throughout my essay I will explain what happened during 'The Troubles' and how it relates to Heaney's poetry. 'The Troubles' affected Heaney's community and himself extensively, to the point where Heaney feels he can not necessarily write poetry directly about the civil unrest. Northern Ireland was engulfed in violence and Heaney could not portray this on paper to the harsh extent that it was, which is why he alludes to it in his poetry.To start with, it is important that one understands the political background of Ireland during the time Heaney wrote this poetry. The civil unrest that broke out in August 1969 in Belfast and Derry began what was to be known as 'The Troubles'. The six counties in Northern Ireland had been partictanded in 1922 and were set up to ensure a Protestant majority. The civil unrest that spilled onto the streets of Belfast and Derry was a direct response by the Stormont Government to supress the civil rights movement. The Northern Ireland civil rights movement had as its slogan, "One man, one vote", which had been influences from the civil rights movement in America led by Dr Martin Luther King. The state's response to this movement plunged Northern Ireland into a sectarian conflict that took 30 years to bring to conclusion. 'The Troubles' seen the British Army become involved in what was to become the longest, most continuous campaign in its history. Sectarian riots and murders from the loyalist side met with Republican attacks on the Royal Ulster Constabulary, Ulster Defence Regiment and the British Army. Security forces collision with Loyalist Paramilitaries was blamed for man sectarian murders. Fractions of Republicans attacked and murdered Protestant. Each side claimed the moral high ground. There had been several attempts to broker various peace settlements which failed, until the Good Friday Agreement which paved the way for a power sharing executive and a peace settlement that has managed to survive until this day.Firstly, in the poem 'Punishment', initially when reading it, the impression is given that the title is quite punitive yet it arouses curiosity in the reader. When reading the first stanza, that curiosity leads to questioning. The words "tug…halter…neck… wind" which are used in the opening stanza have cacophonic tones. Heaney uses this device well as from reading only this stanza, one can assume that a female has been hanged and from his literary device we initially think of it as unjust. In the second stanza, this feeling of confusion with a hint of anger is intensified when he describes the body of this female. Heaney illustrates the vulnerability of this body as he vividly paints a picture of a naked, maybe even emaciated body being blown by the wind...

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