Owen Sheers: Poetry

Masculinity in the Poetry of Owen Sheers 12th Grade

In Skirrid Hill, Owen Sheers explores many themes, one of which is undoubtedly manhood. Throughout the collection, he often focuses in on adolescence and discovering his power as an individual. In this way, it seems clear that Sheers is a poet who explores exactly what it feels like to be a man. Despite this, many of Sheers’ poems do not exclusively focus on what it feels like to be a man, as he explores many traditionally unmasculine themes, including nature, for example, in the poem ‘Swallows’.

The poem ‘Hedge School’ investigates Sheers’ realisation as a child of his own power as a man, specifically the potential for violence that he felt as he moved into adulthood. The title of the poem refers to Sheers’ roots in Ireland, as ‘hedge schools’ were institutions of informal education. By having the content of the poem about actual blackberry bushes, Sheers seems to be suggesting that his own education was really gained from the natural world and his experiences outside of school. The epigraph of the poem refers to a tale of wickedness and violence, which presents this as a predominant theme for the poem. This narrative tactic reflects back on the theme of manhood, as the boy in the poem moves through adolescence and realises...

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