Presentation on theme: "SEAMUS HEANEY (1936-). First and foremost an Irish poet, Heaney is renowned for ways in which he combines in his work personal memories with images of."— Presentation transcript:
First and foremost an Irish poet, Heaney is renowned for ways in which he combines in his work personal memories with images of Irish heritage and the landscape of Northern Ireland. Indeed, not only does he pay tribute to his Irish origins in his poetry, but he also uses the rich rural landscapes of Ireland as a means through which to explore deeper questions of identity, relationships and the power of writing. He won the Nobel Literature prize in 1995. Death of a Naturalist (1966) is his second collection of work. It consists of 34 short poems and is largely concerned with childhood experiences and the formulation of adult identities, family relationships, and rural life. The collection begins with one of Heaney's best-known poems, "Digging", and includes the acclaimed "Death of a Naturalist", "At a Potato Digging", "Mid-Term Break", and "Storm on the Island". Some of Heaney’s later collections of poetry, particularly North address the social and political unrest in Northern Ireland during the 1970s.
What it is about this poetry that appeals to so many and that has, from the outset, earned itself critical acceptance and admiration of a kind rarely seen is best summarised by Christopher Ricks when he called Heaney ‘the most trusted poet of our islands’ Writing about Heaney in 1968, Jim Hunter, said: “His own involvement does not exclude us: there are few private references, and the descriptive clarity of his writing makes it easy to follow...Heaney's world is a warm, even optimistic one: his tone is that of traditional sanity and humanity.”
‘Digging’, the first poem of his first collection, Death of a Naturalist (1966), is quoted in almost every discussion of Heaney’s work for its prescient statement of the themes that would dominate his poetry: his sensual love of his native ground; his fascination with work and all kinds of tools; his vision of poetry as a traditional, laborious, and sustaining craft, like farming. The most important thing about Digging, however, is that it takes the form of a promise, a commitment from the poet to his father and grandfather, whose lives were spent literally digging the soil. Heaney acknowledges that he is not a farmer, and will not follow their vocation. But at the start of his career, he vows to translate their virtues into another kind of work…..Digging’,
What does the poem reveal about Heaney’s feelings towards his cultural heritage? How does Heaney vividly bring the idea of ‘digging’ to life in this poem?
Listen to the following Podcast on Digging and then make notes on the following questionDigging How does Heaney use literary devices to highlight the key themes of the poem? http://poetry.podomatic.com/entry/eg/2006-06-05T09_17_00-07_00
Look at the following reviews of Heaney’s work. Do you agree with them? Bear in mind that these reviews are included to generate discussion. They are not from trusted literary sources and therefore they should not be quoted in your work on Heaney!