Seamus Heaney, a poet from Northern Ireland, has written many poems that deal with the past, present, and future. This Nobel Prize winning poet was born in 1939 in Derry, Northern Ireland, to a father that was a farmer. His grandfather was also a farmer…
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Many of his poems have him looking forward to what he would be able to do when he was grown. He also writes about the conflict in Northern Ireland and events that took place. This poet often refers to his Gaelic heritage in his writings. He also was recently awarded the T.S. Elliot Prize for his poetry.
Heaney was the eldest of nine children. Heaney explains the conflict within himself as the quiet of his father and the outspokenness of his mother. As a Catholic family the Heaneys sent their children to a catholic boarding school where Seamus would watch American Soldiers prepare for D-Day in the fields (Frangsmyr, 1999). It is there that Heaney imagined himself as between "history and ignorance" (Frangsmyr, 1999).
The poems chosen here are examined for Heaney's portrayal of the future. In some the future means years, others days, and in some the future is minutes away and the anticipation in the poetry is evident. Heaney himself gives guidance as to how poetry is read: "excellent poems have two steps: first, they force the readers to concentrate on the 'break from usual life' described in the poem. Second, they place the focus back on the readers themselves. As a result, readers can understand the problem posed by the poem on a deeper level, thereby liberating them. (Heaney, 1996)
NationalPoetry Day this year is Thursday October 4th. Interestingly enough the theme chosen for this year is "Dream". There are many Heaney poems and writings that deal with looking forward to the future. Dreaming about possibilties is also looking toward the future. "The Poetry Society is pleased to announce their association with Forward Arts, who will be taking National Poetry Day forward in new and exciting ways. This is excellent news for poets, poetry and all who engage with it." (The Poetry Review, 2007) The Seamus Heaney Centre will be assisting with National Poetry Day in October by conducting a "Dream Poetry Tour".
The poem "Rite of Spring" looks forward and describes the effects of winter and the arrival of spring as the working free of a hand pump to fetch water. As with many of Heaneys poems one can imagine oneself at the pump working it free with anticipation while reading the poem. And, one can see the reward at the end of the poem (water).
Seamus Heaney's poem "Follower" looks to the future and to the past. The focus of this poem is on his father, Patrick, who often included Heaney when he worked about the farm. The poem describes a young Heaney observing his father expertly handle his team of horses while ploughing in the fields. Young Heaney follows behind his father as he ploughs, sometimes falling and sometimes riding on his fathers back. The whole time following his father Heaney dreams of someday of doing the jobs on the farm himself. This poem has one imagining being that child and following the father all over the farm. The child worshiped and admired his father and dreamt of being him. He expresses that he knew he was a nuisance to his father by constantly "yapping". The poem ends with the tables turned. The father now follows the son around. The father now relies on the son and is amazed by what his son can do.
"From the Frontier of Writing" finds Heaney at a military checkpoint in Northern Ireland. He is in the present and future in this work. The present consists of the soldiers' examination of Heaney's vehicle while weapons are trained on the driver (Heaney). The future consists of the driver's fear of what
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