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English Poetry - Getting to Know the Author

English Poetry – Opened Ground by Seamus Heaney
Getting to Know the Author
 Born on April 13th, 1939 making him a contemporary poet, making him a
poet of our times and making him modern.
 He is from Northern Ireland and lived in a huge Catholic family.
 He became a full-time writer in 1973.
 He won a Noble prize for his literature in 1995, “for work of lyrical
beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles & the living
 Died on Aug 30th, 2013, aged at 74.
 Heaney was born the eldest member of a family of nine children.
 His dad owned and worked a small farm in County Derry in Northern
Ireland, this affecting his upbringing and work.
 Heaney once described himself as someone who “emerged from a
hidden, a buried life & entered the realm of education”. He didn’t follow
his dad’s and grandad’s footsteps.
 The idea of tradition is a very imp. theme in his work.
 Heaney’s earliest poetry collection; Death of a Naturalist (1966). His
second collection was called Door in the Dark (1969).
 Using description of rural laborers & their tasks & contemplations of
natural phenomena – filtered through childhood & adulthood – Heaney
“makes you see, hear, smell, taste this life…” This makes his poetry rich
in sensory, auditory & visual imagery.
 Imagery Seamus Heaney uses:
o Sight – Visual Imagery
o Hear – Auditory Imagery
o Smell – Olfactory Imagery
o Taste – Gustatory Imagery
 Literary Background:
o His family’s background was not bookish, yet he enjoyed reading.
o He started showing interest to write poetry until he was 23.
o Philip Hobsbaum, an English critic and poet, saw first Seamus
Heaney’s potential in poetry.
 Ireland – Historical & Political Background:
o Divided into two parts; Northern Ireland & The Republic of
o Seamus Heaney lived throughout the harsh political times & even
the war and brutal (The Troubles) times of Ireland. And of course,
this is featured in his writing.
 Major Themes:
o Beauty & Depth of Nature.
Death of a Naturist
o Childhood.
o Growing up & Loss of Innocence.
‘rite of passage & coming of age’
o Real Life, Tradition & Nature.
o Death.
o Family & Human Relationship.
o Love.
o History & Mythology.
o The ‘Troubles’. – Political Poetry