Seamus Heaney has many different emotions littered throughout many of his poems. Strong emotions can be seen in the poems “Death of a Naturalist” “Blackberry Picking” “Mid Term Break” “Follower” and “Digging”. In “Follower” and “Digging” Heaney displays emotions of admiration as he describes his father on the farm. Whilst in “Mid Term Break” he feels sadness as he writes about the death of his brother. In “Death of a Naturalist” he feels happiness and delight when collecting frogspawn but fear during an encounter with frogs and in “Blackberry Picking” he feels joy and happiness when he picks blackberries but pain and anguish when they rot.Order now
All these emotions are conveyed through the poems, which gives you a vivid encounter of Heaney growing up. Happiness is a strong emotion exhibited during Heaney’s poems. This is evident in the poem “Blackberry Picking” where Heaney shows great delight in picking the berries. Heaney describes the taste of the berries as, “its flesh was sweet”. This sensuous image is so powerful the reader can almost taste the berry. The word “flesh” portrays how juicy and pulpy the fruit is. The berries were so nice they left Heaney with a, “lust for picking”.
This shows how Heaney had a desperate urge for picking. The word “lust” indicates how Heaney had a strong desire to pick and he found great joy out of doing so. This happiness and joy is also included in “Death of a Naturalist” where Heaney feels at peace with the natural world. At the start of the poem Heaney creates a very enjoyable and comfortable world with all of nature around him, “spotted butterflies”, “bubbles gargled delicately”. This tells us how Heaney feels pleasure for all of the country. This is also shown with what Heaney likes the best, “warm thick slobber/ Of frogspawn”.
The “warm thick slobber” shows how Heaney can remember the exact details of the delightful occasion. Heaney feels great delight in collecting the frogspawn and really enjoys this. With Heaney loving all the country around him and the desire to collect the different things he show us how happy he is in his childhood. Another emotion displayed by Heaney is admiration. He shows this admiration for his father and his strength and skill in the poem “Digging”, “Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds / Bends low comes up twenty years away”. The word “straining” indicates how hard his father worked pushing himself to the limit.
The word “rump” describes the rear of an animal, so shows how Heaney’s father was like a bull or donkey and was powerful and strong. The second half of the quote, “comes up twenty years away” shows how long his father had been working. This portrays how his father has made his business a success by his hardwork and perseverance. Going back twenty years also cleverly changes the present to the past. This quote emphasises how Heaney admires his Dad for his hardwork, strength and power. This admiration is also presented in “Follower”, “All I ever did was follow”.
This shows how dominant Heaney’s father was and how proud Heaney was of him. When Heaney tells us he wants to “grow up and plough” it shows us he wanted to follow in his fathers footsteps and become an expert ploughman. However this shows the contrast between Heaney and his father. The word “plough” is what Heaney sees as his father and what represents him. In Heaney’s ambitions to become a ploughman and the description of his father’s greatness he shows the emotion of admiration and how proud he is of his Dad. Another emotion displayed in Heaney’s poems is sadness.
This is displayed in the poem “Blackberry Picking” where sadness is felt for the berries rotting after he gets so much joy from picking them. When the berries rot there is a feeling of disappointment and anguish, “the sweet flesh would turn sour/ I always felt like crying”. The words “sweet” and “sour” contrast each other and emphasise the sadness of the rotting berries. When the poet “felt like crying” he would remember the sadness of the time and how much it effected him. Similarly sadness is felt in “Mid Term Break” where he tells us about the death of his brother. In the poem Heaney refers to his brother as the “corpse”.
This shows how hurt Heaney was, he couldn’t even refer to him as body or brother. The sadness of the event is depicted all the way through out the family, ” I met my father crying/ He had always taken funerals in his stride”. This was said as Heaney returned home to see is father. This emphasises how hard the death hit Heaney’s family as his father the tower of strength was crying showing weakness. During both poems Heaney shows a sense of anger and denial. The emotion of sadness represents two cases in Heaney’s life where he felt down, and this takes the reader into Heaney’s life making the poems very powerful.
Seamus Heaney also demonstrates fear during his poems. In “Death of a Naturalist” Heaney feels fear against the frogs that never usually scared him until now. Heaney describes the frog’s stance as “Poised like mud-grenades”. This simile helps to emphasise the image of belligerent attack. The image of mud-grenades is used to show how powerful and dangerous the frogs are in the mind of the poet as a young child. They could explode at any moment. This fear is also explored with the, “loose necks pulsed like sails. ” This image of horror shows how threatened the young boy was.
All this is in the young boy’s imagination and he feels frightened and runs away from the frogs. In “Follower” and “Digging” Heaney displays the emotion of inferiority is shown towards his father. In “Follower” Heaney tells us how he fills out of place on the farm, “I stumbled in his hob-nailed wake/ Fell sometimes on the polished sod;” In the first part of the quote Heaney tells us how he “stumbled” in his fathers massive ego and was intimidated by his father. The words “stumbled” and “hob-nailed” contrast each other furthering the effectiveness of the quote.
The second half of the quote shows juxtaposition when Heaney “fell” (clumsy) on the “polished sod” (perfect). This part of the quote tells us how Heaney felt out of place in the farm where his father worked to make everything perfect. This is also shown in “Digging” where Heaney feels that he has, “no spade to follow men like them. ” The “spade” represents the skill that Heaney feels he doesn’t have and the man who he can’t follow is his father. These quotes prove how Heaney feels that he is the odd link out of his family and he does not have the skill to be like his father and be strong, powerful and an all round hard worker.
Loss of innocence is another emotion displayed in the poems. In “Death of a Naturalist” Heaney loses his childish naiveti?? and moves into the real world. At the start of the poem Heaney is still in his comfortable world repeating infant phrases such as, “daddy frog” and “mammy frog”. But during the second stanza the menacing frogs terrify the author, “The slap and plop were obscene threats”. This quote uses onomatopoeia to emphasise the intimidating sounds that made the author feel threatened. Seamus Heaney feels, “sickened” and runs away from the horrors of the real world.
During “Blackberry Picking” loss of innocence is also shown. However this is shown in the awakening of sexual awareness. During the first stanza Heaney tells us how he has a life of pleasure picking blackberries. When Heaney tells us how he had a “lust for picking” it shows how Heaney had discovered sexual excitement. Heaney described the juice of the berry as, “Like thickened wine: summer’s blood” This is also indicates sexual awareness as a young boy would not know the texture of a wine. Also the “summer’s blood” whilst indicating the preciousness and colour of the juice is also referring to sexual awareness.
Collectively loss of innocence is shown as Heaney growing up and finding out about the evils of the world. It is another complex emotion displayed in Heaney’s poems. One of the last emotions demonstrated in the poems is acceptance. In “Digging” Heaney accepts how he cannot continue the family trade but has to follow his chosen trade as a writer. Heaney tells us how he feels comfortable as a writer, “Between my finger and my thumb the squat pen rests”. The quote tells us how affluent he feels with the pen in his hand and this is the trade he has to follow.
Heaney tells us how he will, “dig with” the pen and be as brilliant as his father but with what he chooses to do. Heaney accepts that he can’t carry on the family tradition and has to have guts to admit this. When Heaney accepts that he will not be a farmer he realised that although he loved nature he knew it wouldn’t be his life’s work. Altogether there are many different strong emotions used in Heaney’s poems ranging from happiness to sadness and fear. From admiration to inferiority. All these emotions are described and portrayed in a powerful and meaningful way so as the reader can have an insight to what Heaney’s life was like.