Seamus Heaney is regarded as one of Irelands most accomplished poets. In my opinion he is one of the most talented and gifted poets in Irish poetry. His poetry contains such a wide variety of themes which I find very appealing. Through the proficiency of his literary skills and his unique ability to draw the reader into the depths of his poetry, he is able to tackle complex issues with great expertise. For this critical evaluation I will be writing about two of Heaney’s well written poems, ‘Broagh’ and ‘Perch’.
In the poem ‘Broagh’, Heaney has presented a landscape while exploring the inner construction and origin of language. In ‘Perch’, Heaney handles the subject of nature that is incomprehensibly consistent due to its steady change.
In ‘Broagh’ the Irish poetic technique named dinnshenchas is employed. Translated this literally means ‘place lore’. Through this, the poet explores the naming of a place and its characteristics. In ‘Broagh’, the description portrays a wild piece of land, unkept and uncultivated, featuring phrases such as ‘broad docken’ and ‘boortrees.
’ Place names and dinnshenchas have showed up throughout many of Heaney’s written pieces, which is particularly apparent in this poem. Heaney has utilized dinnshenchas which has employed vocabularies with Gaelic qualities and spoken Irish, representing the landscape of Ireland. Heaney personifies ‘Broagh’ by using the phrase ‘bruised easily’. We associate bruising with humans therefore to me this could be an indirect reference to the past, when the English invaded the country and how the land is just as vulnerable now as it was then.
Although the English invaded the land, a crucial consolation to Heaney is that we still have roots to our native language, which throughout their efforts they couldn’t make extinct. To me he is nearly making a mockery of them and how they, unlike us struggle to pronounce our words, ‘like the last gh the strangers found difficult to manage.’ It is almost like he is advocating for Irish people to keep their culture and language. He creates such a precise and insightful way to examine the difficult subject of the decrease in the Irish language, which is untimely felt throughout the country.
Based on the creation of Dinnshenchas which considlates dialect, rhythm and landscape, Heaney has acquired the custom and culture of old Ireland, expressing his Irish personality. In Besides, he has made a broadened and open field of power which incorporates differed societies and also belief systems, and rises above the parallel restriction of nationalities and religions, satisfying the freedom and additionally style of imaginative creation.
In the poem ‘Perch’, Heaney is describing a return to the River Bann upon where he used to fish as a child. ‘I saw and I see..’ connects the past and the present with the suggestion that they are in some way, balanced. There is a clear sense for the appreciation of beauty towards this particular place. Also, this poem is written in one single sentence from start to finish thus having a sense of connection between everything that is symbolised in the river’s movements, ‘In the everything flows and steady go of the world.’ This last image is particularly evocative as it seems to both hint at the joys of the world, yet also makes us stop and appreciate it as time too flows past us like that of water in a river. It shows his rather demanding subject matter and intricate stylistic techniques that evoke the reader’s emotions. Symbolism is very effectively used to suggest meaning. Concrete realities such as the ‘river’ may represent life’s journey, where we cannot see what is ahead but must travel on, accepting what may be around the next corner. The image portrayed of the rivers ‘current’, in contrast to the concrete ones, is not static but actually in continuous movement. As our memories are always changing, mixing separate events together, one could say it would resemble quite similarly to the one sentence presented in the poem. Sometimes we too can be like perch, keeping place while the river, which metaphorically symbolises life, moves past and around us.
Reading the poetry of Seamus Heaney is not like going on a holiday to some faraway paradise and then finding yourself back home safe again. Instead it is as though he takes you across a threshold of some sort, familiar at first but increasingly strange. It puts you in a state of reflection and appreciation. Whether you like where you end up or not, you have to admit that you are somewhere new.