It is divided into seven stanzas, each of which contains four lines. Heaney uses half or slant rhymes throughout the poem. These are seen through the repetition of assonance or consonance. This means that either a vowel or consonant sound is reused within one line, or multiple lines of verse. Heaney chose to make use of scattered instances of rhyme in order to provide the text with some rhythmic unity, but not get bogged down by a particular structure.
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Seamus Heaney 's poem "Bogland" was included in his second collection, Door into the Dark , and it is one of a number of poems Heaney wrote about the bogs in Ireland. The speaker begins the first stanza by saying what the bogland is not like: the open American prairies, with clear lines in the horizon for the sun to set behind.
The speaker also begins the poem in the first person plural. This seems to indicate that the poem represents a general perspective, not an individual one. This is also reflected in the way the speaker refers to "the eye" as a general feature instead of reflection what an individual person sees. The eye seems to turn inward, away from the horizon and into the depths of the earth and water. The next stanza focuses on a skeleton of a Great Irish Elk, an extinct species of deer, that was removed from the peat and set up as a fossil.
The speaker marvels at it, describing it as an "astounding crate of air," which seems to refer to the emptiness within the skeleton. The following stanza turns to other objects uncovered during excavation of the peat. The speaker asserts that "They'll never dig coal here," apparently referring to the Irish turf farmers. The poem begins by focusing on the lack of open horizons that would neatly cut the sun at sunset.
By describing how the bog becomes crusty from the sun every day, the speaker shows how unchanging the landscape is. The use of the word "sights" subtly echoes the image of the "cyclops' eye of a tarn" from several lines earlier. The comparisons of the bogs and tarns to eyes breathe life into Irish landscape; these wetlands appear watchful yet silent and imbued with the power to pull in any observers.
The speaker describes the skeleton as an "astounding crate of air," which emphasizes both the impressiveness of the discovery and its ultimate hollowness. The bogs have the effect of preserving the past, but they do little for the present or future; this issue arises later in the poem when the speaker brings up forms of fuel that are easier to harvest.
By describing the ground as "kind" and "melting and opening," the speaker indicates tender feelings for the bogland, which yields compliantly. However, the speaker then points out that this ground is not at its "last definition," i. This emphasizes the sense of inadequacy that the landscape of this poem is heavy with. The fifth stanza ends on the line "They'll never dig coal here," which recalls the earlier use of the general "They" in reference to those who dug up the Elk skeleton.
This image echoes the Great Irish Elk. Like the elk skeleton, while preserved tree trunks are interesting to discover, they are not useful. Like the mention of the prairies in stanza one, this part of the poem seems to compare the Irish bogs to the North American prairies, and these pioneers to the American ones.
In direct opposition to the American explorers, who explored the possibilities of the future, these pioneers explore the history of Ireland, which is a futile exercise. The final stanza makes it clear that these paths have been tread before, or appear to have been. The idea that this journey of inward discovery has been done before emphasizes its unproductive nature. This image is ambiguous, but if the pioneers are digging into the past through the bogs, it seems that this task is ceaseless.
The tone is solemn, maybe a touch mournful, and through the speaker's vague sense of disappointment the reader is able to understand that failure is built into this landscape. Bogland study guide contains a biography of Seamus Heaney, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.
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Bogland by Seamus Heaney: Summary and Analysis
Andrew has a keen interest in all aspects of poetry and writes extensively on the subject. His poems are published online and in print. Bogland is one of many poems Heaney composed on the subject of Irish identity and its relation to the past. It was written in the s and was the last poem in his second book Door into the Dark, published in Heaney turns the peat bog into a metaphor for memory and feeling, a place where identity is buried and preserved. The speaker is not personally involved in this poem - there is no first person I - but rather takes an overview of the land and the history.
Bogland by Seamus Heaney
Seamus Heaney. A bog is wet, spongy ground with soil composed mainly of decayed vegetable matter Dictionary. The poem is structured like a bog, too, with short lines that make it look like it is drilling into the ground and with the way Heaney uncovers a new layer with each new stanza. All of these literary devices display Ireland as a time capsule, through the symbolism of the bog.