Seamus Heaney the Irish poet and writer (1939- ) uses a wide variety of words and phrases in his poems to introduce to you his early sensations. Heaney portrays through a number of his poems including ‘Storm on the Island’ and ‘The Early Purges’ early sensations through describing senses such as sound, smell, touch and sight. Heaney chooses his words very carefully and effectively which make his words appeal to the senses, thus creating in the mind of the reader a mental picture true to the poet’s intention.
I am going to look at two of Seamus Heaney’s poems ‘Storm on the Island’ and ‘The Early Purges’ and I am going to investigate how Heaney uses words and phrases to capture his early sensations, such as sound, smell, touch and sight.
Seamus Heaney’s main style of writing used in capturing his early sensations is through choosing his words with ultimate precision to ensure that they create the correct effect on the reader. In both of the poems ‘The Early Purges’ and ‘Storm on the Island’ the words and phrases Heaney has put together were chosen carefully and individually to guarantee the poem is crisp and precise in creating the view and to capture the issues Heaney wants to portray or create.
Another method Seamus Heaney uses in the two poems to capture his early sensations is through the use of similes. By Heaney using similes in his poems this helps to capture some of his early sensations, in particular sound and sight. Similes also help to create better imagery in forming a mental picture in the mind of the reader, which make the poem more enjoyable, effective and pleasurable to read. An example of a simile being used in ‘The Early Purges’ is here, ‘Like wet gloves they bobbed and shone.’
That quote is when a young Seamus Heaney is watching some animals on the farm being purged by Dan and, as I mentioned in the sentence before, it helps to produce a more graphic picture in the mind of the reader what Heaney is witnessing. Another example of Heaney using similes to capture early sensations is from this quote out of ‘Storm on the Island’. ‘Spits like a cat turned savage’ shows the use of a simile to good effect to create the sound of the spray from the sea as the wind blows it towards Heaney’s house.
Another style Seamus Heaney uses in his poems to capture early sensations is through the utilisation of personification. In the poem ‘Storm on the Island’ Heaney uses personification to emphasise the storm and create better imagery of the storm and wind as if they were people. Personification is used by Seamus Heaney to establish for the reader early sensations, in particular sight.
Seamus Heaney also uses contrast of vocabulary in order to capture early sensations, such as sound, smell, touch, and sight. Here is an example from ‘Storm on the Island’; ‘We are bombarded by the empty air’. Here the reader would usually associate bombardment with war, but Heaney uses it to convey how vulnerable he feels through being isolated. This also shows how carefully Seamus Heaney chooses his words for maximum effect in his poem.
The last way Seamus Heaney uses words to capture early sensations is through the use of onomatopoeias. Onomatopoeia is when words are used that imitate the sound of what is being described. Heaney uses these styles of words in both poems, ‘Storm on the Island’ and ‘The Early Purges’ to capture one particular sensation, sound. Examples out of those two poems of onomatopoeias are; ‘Pummels, Soused and Sluiced’.
Overall Seamus Heaney uses careful choice of words, personification, similes, onomatopoeias and a contrast of vocabulary to capture early sensations, such as sound, smell, touch and sight in two of his poems, ‘Storm on the Island’ and ‘The Early Purges’.