Analysing The Postmodernism In Heaneys Poems English Literature Essay

July 22, 2017 English Literature

This research is a instance survey including treatments and analysis of two verse forms by Seamus Heaney, one of the postmodern poets. The verse form, which are traveling to be analyzed, are: Bogland and The Tollund Man.

In Heaney ‘s poesy we can see a connexion between the fabulous and the logical, the yesteryear and the present, to depict his ideas and emotions, refering the Irish problems and human experiences. Heaney represent his feelings toward these jobs by utilizing imagination and structural techniques that are present in his verse form.

Chapter one of this survey is a reappraisal of the political orientation of postmodernism with accent on postmodernism and poesy. It besides includes the significance of postmodernism, different positions and unfavorable judgment on Heaney ‘s poesy and his thoughts about the rules of imagism.

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Chapter two analyzes the verse form Bogland and uncover some points in depicting the verse form such as its national sides and two cardinal images in the verse form and explains how the poet has achieved and used them in his verse form. It besides discusses about Heaney ‘s essay on a verse form called The Bog People by P.V Globe.

Chapter three is about the verse form The Tollund Man and refers it to the deathly and violent characteristics bing in The Bog People. It discusses how the cadavers from ancient universe and crude imposts present themselves to the verse form. It ‘s besides about the unfamiliarity in today ‘s conditions and how Heaney changes his descriptive statements and emotional history into images in his poesy. It says that what is considered is the history of present and the whole universe is in inventive linguistic communication.

Heaney ‘s poesy is the imaginativeness and dreams of freedom in his mirror and composing these verse forms is an act of showing what is go oning in his head.

Today postmodernism is considered as a reproduction of ancient traditions. Postmodernism like modernism, follows the thoughts of rejecting boundaries between high and low signifiers of art, rejecting inflexible genre differentiations, and stressing lampoon, sarcasm and playfulness.1

Postmodernism points to a turning world in civilization. Anything fast, image centered, any thing that shocks or no longer keeps the tradition in itself can be considered postmodern.

Dr. Christopher Carter, one of the professors at University of Louisville believes:

From Adrienne Rich to Jacques Derrida, poets continually attack conventional boundaries, recondition them, disregard them. Postmodernist poets frequently subvert the really forms they appropriate. They pose as different egos while declining to talk for anyone, risk the same audiences they attract, revitalize senses and emotions flattened by mass market civilization. They compose a cacophonic music which thrives on break and defeated outlook. Sonnets might hold 14 links, but rarely 14 lines. Language, that cultural prison, becomes a site of communal opposition. 2

Postmodernism can besides be considered in poesy. Among the celebrated postmodermn poets are: Jacques Derrida, Kathy Acker, Adrienne Rich, Charels Berstein, Yeats and Heaney.

Seamus Heaney in an essey From Feeling to Word in 1974 has described his poetic life and the development of his poetic intelligence, and he believes that at first a adult male starts to work merely like any other impersonators and so what he learns is really his particular technique in poesy, he name it trade of composing. Then the poet achieves some consequences about technique, and in fact it is a aggregation of accomplishments that the poet uses to make his ain manner and method.

About The Bog People he writes:

I admire the scope of a verse form ‘s unfavorable judgment to be more colourful, and I like it to be more house. The words allow you to hold this ambidextrous brush. They smile at their reader ‘s manner of reading and blink of an eye at the poet ‘s manner of utilizing them. Of class, behind them there is much symbolic theorisation, but non that in my witting motion toward composing poesy. I was guided by the symbolic prescriptions, but I agree with a amalgam of generalizations that in a obscure manner can outdo describe that symbolic label.And I find the rules of imagism, methodological analysis of the symbolism, interesting: showing an image as a mental and emotional knot in a minute of clip. I think all of these were inevitable by sing the class I had in English literature that reached its extremum with Eliot and Yeats.3

This portion of modernist ‘s tradition needs no account. Heaney was besides witting of this affair and hence possibly because of this, in an essay in 1974, that is an of import essay for understanding his poetical grows, he talks about these affairs in item.

Writing about Heaney in 1968, Jim Hunter said:

“ His ain engagement does non except us: there are few private mentions, and the descriptive lucidity of his authorship makes it easy to follow… Heaney ‘s universe is a warm, even optimistic 1: his tone is that of traditional saneness and humanity. “ 4

Heaney described his country by composing Digging as the first verse form of his first book. In this and many subsequently poems, like Tony Morison ‘s, he was concerned about the laden.

After composing the powerful bog verse forms of North ( 1975 ) , he was considered as a political poet and was forced to populate in the Irish Republic. The problems of Ireland continued in his verse form, but the richer harmoniousnesss in Field Work ( 1979 ) , Station Island ( 1984 ) , The Haw Lantern ( 1987 ) , Sing Thingss ( 1991 ) , and The Spirit degree ( 1996 ) demo his strong intelligence in poesy, and that ‘s why Robert Lowell considers him as the best Irish poet since W.B Yeats. ”

Heaney is the victor of the 1995 Noble Prize for literature.

Seamus Heaney and “ Bogland ”

The twelvemonth 1969 is a important twelvemonth for Heaney, when he published Bogland. In this verse form Heany brought himself from modernism to the postmodernism. It is seldom seen that all of the poets in go throughing from modernism to postmodernism experienced all of his points wholly.

Two cardinal images that have an of import function in his sight, particularly when we move from his earlier verse forms, are untasted cadavers and bog. How did the poet achieve these two images? The images are of import because foremost, they do n’t look to hold any fabulous side and secondly, no 1 before Heaney has used them in poesy in this manner. We see no hint of them neither in the dramas of Oscar Wilde, Bernard Shaw, J. M. Synge or Yeats and no mark of them in the short narratives and novels of James Joyce, Samuel Beckett or Yeat ‘s verse form. Irish authors had taken no notice of these marshy cadavers until the publication of Heaney ‘s verse form. But Heaney himself non merely mentioned the presence of those cadavers and the bog but besides established a world that has now become a portion of Ireland history.

The verse form goes like this:

We have no prairies

To slit a large Sun at flushing

Everywhere the oculus concedes to

Encrouching skyline,

Is wooed into the Cyclopss ‘ oculus

Of a tarn. Our unfenced state

Is bog that keeps crusting

Between the sights of the Sun.

They ‘ve taken the skeleton

Of the Great Irish Elk

Out of the peat, set it up

An amazing crate full of air.

Butter sunk under

More than a hundred old ages

Was recovered salty and white.

The land itself is sort, black butter

Melting and opening underfoot,

Missing its last definition

By 1000000s of old ages.

They ‘ll ne’er delve coal here,

Merely the boggy short pantss

Of great firs, soft as mush.

Our innovators maintain contact

Inwards and downwards,

Every bed they strip

Seems camped on before.

The bogholes might be Atlantic ooze.

The moisture Centre is bottomless.

Heaney reveals some points in depicting this verse form. First of all is that this landscape reminds him of his childhood. Second, bog is non merely a landscape but it is a memory. In the past some animals lived in it or some other sank in it. The butter, which was put beneath the coal to salvage it from decay, is taken out white and salted, and it has n’t decayed in one hundred old ages. This memory has national sides, excessively. Whatever was put in Dubline ‘s museum, was a mark of an geographic expedition in the marshy country. The things found in the bog awaken the populace and personal memory of the poet. Third the poet uses analogy. Prairie is one of the features of America ‘s dirt. The prairie in the twilight does n’t divide the Sun in Ireland. Heaney remembers this idea from the memory of American literature. The literature of innovators, a sort of literature that is written with the gap of America ‘s Continental boundary line. Here, it is non that status. In this fenceless land, the bog is layered and in each bed that is taken by Irish innovators, the past coevalss, in former old ages have set up a cantonment. Here, the innovator does n’t continue, but he goes down ; and here the land will non make its account after 1000000s of old ages. Extracting coal from here is hard, because bog ‘s H2O has softened the firs. Heaney with the image of this bog and this memory reaches his poetical independency. But he does n’t halt in this independency, he tries to convey this topic near to a new manner of poetic statement. In fact the ground of Heaney ‘s popularity in Ireland is that he deepens the kingdom of decease, this ageless capable affair of poesy, in the Irish fatherland and the decease of the linguistic communication of poesy. Now we come back to two chief images of Heaney ‘s verse form: bog and cadaver.

Heaney ‘s indicant of The Bog People, published in the same twelvemonth as Bogland, is non without ground. P.V Globe, the author of The Bog People, explains to the full about the saved cadavers of work forces and adult females found in Jutland. These cadavers are au naturel and their pharynxs have been cut or they were suffocated. The author believes that these cadavers were put under the coal in the age of Iron, and he thinks that the work forces cadavers were sacrificed in a usage in the age of the maternity of “ The Mother Goddess ” and were sacrificed to vouch the birthrate of the land.

The Mother Goddess selects immature work forces as her bedfellows and in the spring she split their blood on the evidences. One of these work forces whose caput is saved in the museum Silkeburg, is named The Tollund Man that is the rubric of one of Heaney ‘s verse forms that we are traveling to discourse in the undermentioned chapter.

Seamus Heaney and “ The Tollund Man ”

What took topographic point in the past and accompanied with force, decease and violent death, threw itself into a hazardous hereafter. Heaney, with a mention to these events that happened in his state, wrote the verse form Tulland Man. In Death of a Naturalist he says: “ When I wrote this verse form, I experienced a new feeling, the feeling of decease ” ( 124 ) . Here comes the verse form:


Some twenty-four hours I will travel to Aarhus

To see his peat-brown caput,

The mild cods of his eye-lids,

His pointed tegument cap.

In the level state near by

Where they dug him out,

His last gruel of winter seeds

Caked in his tummy,

Naked except for

The cap, noose and girdle,

I will stand a long clip.

Bridegroom to the goddess,

She tightened her torc on him

And opened her fen,

Those dark juices working

Him to a saint ‘s kept organic structure,

Trove of the turfcutters ‘

Honeycombed workings.

Now his stained face

Rests at Aarhus.


I could put on the line blasphemy,

Ordain the caldron bog

Our sanctum land and pray

Him to do germinate

The scattered, ambushed

Flesh of laborers,

Stockinged cadavers

Laid out in the farmyards,

Tell-tale tegument and dentition

Spoting the slumberers

Of four immature brothers, trailed

For stat mis along the lines.


Something of his sad freedom

As he rode the tumbrel

Should come to me, driving,

Stating the names

Tollund, Grauballe, Nebelgard,

Watching the pointing custodies

Of state people,

Not cognizing their lingua.

Out here in Jutland

In the old man-killing parishes

I will experience lost,

Unhappy and at place.

The verse form is about the forces of destiny. The opportunity of endurance for the bog organic structures. In the verse form, the poet has considered the freedom really of import and valuable. There is no society, no group, cold decease and outside forces.

The first image is an image of a cadaver who is quiet and caught in the torc of others. There is an accent on his brown tegument. He is left unprotected, bare and destroyed but elevated at the same clip. There is a rough feeling connected with the environing state. The goddess is portion of the state. The lone marks it leaves on victims, are the remains of their decease, cap, noose and girdle.

The isolation from society is emphasized in the verse form by brooding on the strane name such as Tollund, Graubelle, Nebelgard. The at place is merely the individual ‘s normal province and it is non supposed to be comfy.

The verse form has particular sort of features similar to Yeat ‘s poesy. The most of import feature of it, is its unfamiliarity in today ‘s status. The poet did n’t necessitate to do a unusual universe in this verse form, but the verse form is unusual itself, because of those existent cadavers that were brought out of the bog. . But the poesy of this universe, which is wholly unusual and awful, can non be written merely with a descriptive linguistic communication. We will see that Heaney himself came to this decision that offering a landscape even a landscape which is so awful is non plenty. The poet ‘s duty is non to depict a landscape either it ‘s glooming and barbarian or it ‘s poetical and beautiful. He ca n’t merely acquire affected and so bring forth his poesy. The chief feature of a portion of modernism in poesy is fragmental presentation of the pieces. Heaney now, has the topic, has his descriptive statement, has its emotional history, so he changes all of them into images. But in this verse form, foremost of wholly he deals with external mentions because every image of the verse form and the pieces of poesy can mention to that event. Cadavers from ancient universe and from crude imposts present themselves to the poet. Nineteen cadavers that earlier had lost their existent geographics, appears to the poet. Today ‘s universe of the poet with these crude cadavers is in danger. The poet himself says that he is in fright. In the field of fresh, we have seen distressing universes in the plants of “ Borges ” , “ Nabakov ” , “ Italo Calvino ” and “ Margues ” and in poesy in the plants of “ Robert Creely ” , “ John Ashbery ” and now in the plants of Heaney that is closer to our clip.

Who will state cadaver?

To his vivid dramatis personae?

Who will state `body ‘

To his opaque repose?

Heaney is one of the most political poets of the 20th century, but in malice of societal and political affairs, he is the poet of presence. He has a certain belief and purpose in poesy. The poet sees that after bring forthing his poesy as a progressive conscious of his clip and the linguistic communication of his history and his people, he reveals his dependence in his poesy. When he has passed all these affairs, he arrived at a point that the philosophers nowadays name it critical point.


Heaney can be considered as a poet who showed trueness to the authoritative English poesy and modern European-English poesy tradition. But because of his protest against the traditions that is passed to him from the yesteryear, he shows his originality by turning off from past and traditional rules to modern conventions.

Heaney ‘s verse forms, which are related to, Sacrifice Ceremonies are, as they were, the images in Heaney ‘s mirror. They are his imaginativenesss and dreams of freedom. What we have is a state of affairs in which the universe turns out, harmonizing to the logic of the verse form, non to an unknown district at all, but to what the poet ever knew but had merely forgotten. It is as if the universe is a concealed unconscious thing in the poet ‘s imaginativeness, and composing the verse form is the act of showing this universe. In these footings, the force in Ireland is a return of the ceremonials of forfeit and Heaney ‘s verse forms show such procedure.


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