Seamus Heaney Poems

Heaney and Plath: Attachment and Detachment to Their Fathers 12th Grade

Seamus Heaney and Sylvia Plath are two contemporary poets from very different family backgrounds. Heaney grew up rooted in rural Ireland with a close-knit large family, and Plath grew up in a dislocated family with her mother and brother. Her father died shortly after her 8th birthday. These poets' different upbringings could be the reason that they each portray their fathers in very dissimilar ways in their work. Heaney’s poems reflect his of pride and admiration for his father’s ability as a farmer, whereas Plath’s poems display raw hatred towards her father. In fact, Plath even goes so far as to use the Holocaust as an extended metaphor, portraying her father as an oppressive Nazi.

However, despite the immediately obvious differences between the two poets’ depictions of their fathers, there are subliminal feelings underneath the surface. Despite Heaney’s avid admiration for his father and his skill as a farmer, Heaney’s own lack of skill as a farmer caused him to detach himself from his farming roots and establish himself as a poet. Meanwhile, Plath’s relationship with her dead father is filled with both love and hate. She may hate her father because his absence from her life caused her to become an emotionally oppressed...

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