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How Seamus Heaney's Childhood Affected His Poetry Essay

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How Seamus Heaney's Childhood Affected His Poetry

Seamus Heaney was born in the North of Ireland in 1939 on a farm with his mother and father and nine other siblings. Generally Heaney's poems are influenced by animals through his childhood experience, specifically within 'The Early Purges' and 'An Advancement of
Learning'. Heaney grew up near Belfast, during the time of 'The
Troubles', the Irish civil war. Although Heaney left at the height of the war, it is obvious his work reflects his experiences of that time.
For an example 'The Early Purges' illustrates this. "Where they consider death unnatural". Growing into an environment where Heaney will appreciate that death does exist, the extract interprets killing to be
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They seem weak and terrified.

Heaney uses words such as, "purges", "the water pumped in", "scraggy wee shits", "dunghill" and "dung" to suggest that the kittens seem like waste. The title reflects the idea of waste, as the word "purges" means getting rid of undesirables. "The water pumped in," indicates what happens when flushing a toilet, therefore getting rid of waste.
Dan Taggart calls the kittens, "scraggy wee shits" which shows that he doesn't care about the killing of the kittens and treats them as waste to be got rid of. He justifies his actions by suggesting the kittens have no value. A "dunghill" can be used for getting rid of "dung" and the kittens are "sluiced" on the dunghill. The word "sluiced" means
'flushed' indicating a toilet, so the kittens are therefore treated as waste. Throughout the poem we are viewing the killing through Heaney's eyes and it is evident that he does not like the killing as he uses words such as "soft", "tiny" and "frail" to suggest the kittens are innocent and harmless. The words, "For days I sadly hung round the yard, watching the three sogged remains" and "the fear came back" suggest he was affected by the carnage and murder he witnessed. However, toward the end of the poem he is forced to accept the killing and torture.
Heaney became numb, unfeeling and almost deadened. This is shown in the words, "I just shrug, 'Bloody pups'. It makes sense". He is almost imitating Dan Taggart at this point to justify
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