Seamus Heaney Poems

Meaning Through Language in Heaney's Poetry 12th Grade

Two of Seamus Heaney's poems that rely on the shifts in language to create meaning are “The Strand at Lough Beg” and “Casualty”, both from his Field Work (1979) Anthology. Both poems revolve around the effects of sectarian violence in Ireland alluding to the fact that many Irish are not political driven and are collateral damage in the events. Through rich imagery and strong symbolism, Heaney utilises language to reflect on the Troubles in Ireland.

The two poems “The Strand at Lough Beg” and “Casualty” reflect on victims of sectarian violence in Ireland who known personally to Heaney. In “The Strand at Lough Beg”, Heaney tries to give back to his cousin, Colum McCartney, the dignity he lost due to the brutality of his death. McCartney was a victim of a roadside murder as he returned home from a Gaelic football match. Heaney was not actually present at his cousin’s death but visualises an imaginary situation where he assumes the role of Dante from Purgatorio. Similar to this, Heaney invents memories of Louis O’Neill, the man killed in an Irish Republican Army (IRA) pub bombing. Parallels can be drawn between “The Strand at Lough Beg” and “Casualty” as they both utilise intertextuality in the poems through the language and...

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