‚ÄúI Rhyme, to See Myself, to Set the Darkness Echoing.‚Äù How Far Does This Statement Apply to and Sum Up Seamus Heaney‚Äôs Intentions in Writing Poetry?
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“I rhyme, to see myself, to set the darkness echoing.”
How far does this statement apply to and sum up Seamus Heaney’s intentions in writing poetry?
In part Seamus Heaney uses his poetry to explore himself but he also explores beyond himself. In his earlier work he mainly explores his childhood. However this develops in his later work, where he looks at his nationality and explores the concept of Irish identity. Heaney also explores darkness on varying levels from the literal to the metaphysical in terms of morality, as well as shining effulgence on the forgotten people.
“Personal Helicon” marks a departure from his autobiographical earlier work, within the collection “Death of a Naturalist”, “Personal Helicon” shows this…show more content… This paradox is compounded as through explaining and transcending himself Heaney gains a greater meaning; as the eminent psychiatrist and neurologist Victor Frankl said
“In other words, self-actualization is possible only as a side-effect of self-transcendence”,
Man’s Search for meaning
therefore “Personal Helicon” is Heaney’s epiphany and not a loss of innocence.
Heaney goes on to explore beyond himself in the poem entitled “North”, by shining light at the dark history and politics of Ireland. As in a “Personal Helicon” a monologue form is adopted, however the narrative is completely fictitious being set in the past, with a persona that is not explicitly Heaney; the persona is similarly searching for an answer to the bloody history,
“I found only the secular
Powers of the Atlantic”.
Destruction pervades the entirety of “North”, even the coastal process of erosion is personified as a violent act, “hammered curve of a bay”, powered by the “Atlantic thundering”. This thundering invokes a harsh aural sound in the reader in the first stanza foreshadowing the hostile history of Ireland by making it an inherent property in the actual physical land. Furthermore the use of “secular”, suggests a search for meaning, which cannot easily be found.
There is a parallel drawn in the erosion of the coast which paradoxically has carved and created Ireland, as