Poetry Analysis Essay

Poetry Analysis Essay

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A quote from Seamus Heaney’s poem entitled “Summer 1969” is “He painted with his fists and elbows, flourished / The stained cape of his heart as history charged” which will greatly influence my discussion of his developing expressions of his role as an Irish poet. In this essay I will be discussing his poems entitled “Bog Queen”, “Punishment” and “Summer 1969”. In discussing any poet, one must always consider the social and political background to the poetry since poetry never exists in a vacuum but is always influenced by its social and political times. As a northern poet, Heaney’s work is very much connected to the troubles in the north and his vision is bound up with that of civil disturbance. Heaney benefited from the connection to Britain in such matters as free education and free medical care but as a Catholic and native Irishman, he was also part of the oppressed. Heaney like all northern poets, shows a very clear and differential history of the six counties. Like all other male poets of his time, Heaney stood in the shadow of the internationally acclaimed and hugely influential, W.B. Yeats. Yeats’ use of poetic form and his mastery over the art of poetry was daunting for his successors. Yeats kept to traditional form, meters and rhyme and was a master craftsman. Heaney, similarly to Yeats, has an extraordinary gift for rhymes and a songlike quality to his poetry. Unlike poets like Thomas Kinsella who reject and move away from the style of Yeats, Heaney retains such qualities in the Yeatsian era. Heaney is from a rural background and is remote from the cities and the cosmopolitan and his work is steeped in Catholic rhetoric. While Heaney, the man, is cosmopolitan, his poetry is not and this is a positive thing....


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...sibility for standing “dumb” while this violence occurred. Finally, it is in the poem “Summer 1969” that Heaney fully develops his expression of his role as Irish poet. This poem consists of a more meditative approach and he acknowledges his own thinking. He decides that he must take Goya as his role model and accept responsibility for the atrocities in the north and reflect them in his poetry. While “Summer 1969” may not be considered as compelling as the previous two poems mentioned it is the most responsible, honest and well thought-out poem of the three. It was indeed Goya that inspired this change of heart in Heaney when he saw the painter was not afraid to accept responsibility as an artist and allow himself be stained with the blood of history. “...He painted with his fists and elbows, flourished / The stained cape of his heart as history charged”.


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