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A Letter To Seamus Heaney Essay

1355 words - 6 pages

A Letter To Seamus Heaney
Dear Mr. Heaney,
I have recently studied your poetry for my Leaving Certificate English course and enjoyed it immensely. I admire the method by which you turn your poetry in to an exploration of more expansive topics. I am going to discuss some of your poems and the effects that they had on me as a reader.
A poem I especially admire is The Tollund Man. I found your exploration of the past to interpret the future to be inspiring. I felt that the parallel drawn between the ritual killing Age of the Iron Age and the killings of innocent victims in contemporary Ireland to be particularly insightful. I however see your image of the Tollund Man to be a much more ...view middle of the document...

This poem is in the form of a sonnet which is, I believe, to display your dedication to, and love of poetry. The opening line is written in iambic pentameter: “All I know is a door into the dark” which gives it quality of statement, but the phrase “All I know” suggests both humility and uncertainty. Also the staccato rhythm in the same verse lends an air of excitement: “short pitched ring”. You have not yet gained the courage to cross the threshold but an eagerness to do so also resonates. I adore the sense of magic and mystery created when you consider the anvil, how it must be “somewhere in the middle” and how it is “set there immoveable” I gained a sense that this “relic” is mythical and somewhat religious, that the ordinary is sacred. The blacksmith is like a priest at the “altar” becoming part of his own creative process. The blacksmith is, like yourself, an artist, but he is an artist of a different kind, he moves to the music and rhythm of his work as you might, but his work is also physically draining and laborious. To the smith his work is everything, his livelihood and his passion. It is my belief that even though people, artists, such as yourself may be the instruments through which creativity manifests itself, to whom the metaphorical door may be knowable, they are blinded to a creative process that is ultimately unknowable, by the dark beyond the door.
I believe your poem A Constable Calls is the most overtly political poem I have studied on my course, dealing with the divided society of Northern Ireland. You present this poem, like many of your other poems, as a memory poem. Your wrote this poem in the way you remembered it a young boy which captures the innocence of the event in a way that only a child could. The poem opens with a description, not of the constable, but of his bike. The bicycle “stood” upright, precise; it is well-equipped and its “mud splasher”, “dynamo” and “fat, black handlegrips” suggest control and authority. The dynamo “cocked back” lends and air of assurance and confidence like a loaded gun. The constable himself is seen as an almost inhuman entity that exists only to cause and deliver fear to the catholic families of Northern Ireland. The constable is a most unwelcome visitor, “his cap was upside down on the floor”. He is shown no courtesy, offered no drink to quench his thirst even though his ”slightly sweating hair” tells us he would have greatly appreciated one. But this man, this figure doesn’t deserve it, he is intruding on the house bringing with him “arithmetic and fear” and causing tension in a house that is not his. The innocence of your young, former self is highlighted in the fear felt when you worry about the line of turnips your father neglects to...

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