The Spirit Level by Seamus Heaney Essay

The Spirit Level by Seamus Heaney Essay

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Seamus Heaney’s poem “Postscript” comes from a book of poems The Spirit Level that Heaney published in 1996. In these poems, Heaney tries to entice the reader to be open to marvelous moments of vision in small, everyday moments. Throughout the “Postscript” the speaker is describing an experience with a natural landscape in order to illustrate how experiences can evoke feelings that overwhelm us and leave us speechless because of their transcendent beauty. Finding words for the beautiful, sublime, and uplifting moments can be difficult when encountering such places, and even though the speaker leaves space for the ineffable, the poem makes the reader feel as though they have received a glimpse of something true, a valuable piece of advice about how to move through the world.

The “Postscript” is a lyric in a single, informal verse paragraph that resembles a sonnet, though not keeping to all of the rules of the traditional poetic form. The poem joins a detailed account of an experience in which the speaker took a “drive out west / Into County Clare, along the Flaggy Shore” (1-2), with a reflection of what the speaker experienced, and advice on how the reader can create their own version of something similar. The structure of the poem coincides with the experience the speaker is describing, and even though the poem loosely follows a common sonnet structure, Heaney incorporates an irregular and arrhythmic pattern to the structure which conveys the spontaneity surrounding the fleeting moment that the speaker is experiencing. The conversational style of the poem, along with the structure, illustrates the extemporaneous nature of experience and thought, and through the use of enjambment, Heaney quickens the pace of the poem in order to ...


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...along the West Coast of Ireland. Heaney is suggesting that it is not the place that is important, but the readiness to sense the combination of events that provide a thrill for the heart.

Thus, Heaney is suggesting that in order for memorable and magical experiences to occur, people have to be willing and alert. It is not a case of searching for a unique experience, but being open to them. The speaker articulates that it is a combination of events while in motion that may surprise and thrill a person, which in turn will lead to their own version of his unique experience. Heaney is urging the reader to avail his or her own opportunities to experience a vision like the one described in the poem, as having the experience is more important than the memory. Bibliography




Works Cited

Heaney, Seamus. “Postscript”. The Spirit Level. London: Faber and Faber, 1996. Print.

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