Heaney's Poetry

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Heaney Letter

Dear Mr. Heaney,
I have recently studied some of your poetry for my leaving certificate english course and I feel greatly changed by what I read. To say the least, it made a strong impression on me. It was a memorable experience. I looked into five of your poems with great depth and they were; "A Constable Calls", "The Forge", "The Underground", "The Tollund Man", and of course "The Skunk". These poems inspired a range of emotions in me that I would never have expected to feel while reading poetry.

In the poem "A Constable Calls" I feel that the predominant mood is one of tension and hostility. In my opinion it is an explanation of the relationship dynamic between two traditions juxtaposed in the north of Ireland. It is clearly not a friendly, personal relationship. I felt that the way in which you portrayed a young Heaney -an objective observer- was particularly effective to say the least. Even more impressive the young Heaney appears to offer up no opinion yet within the first couple of lines we have a clear sense of the constable. The image we are presented with of the constable is one of authority and control. It appears even "The pedal treads" are delighted to be "hanging relieved" from "the boot of the law". It seems to me here that not only does this boot refer to the actual boot worn by the constable but also the impersonal, forceful, powerful presence that is the law. I think you captured equally successfully the significance of the exchange between your father and the constable and its meaning to you with the phrase "Arithmetic and fear". The air of unease and fear on the part of your father is almost tangeable here. The lack of friendliness is accentuated by the brief exchange of words between your father and the constable. The stern, authoritarian tone of voice he takes with your father when he says "Any other root crops? Mangolds? Marrowstems? Anything like that?" and the single, unaccompanied response of your father "No" sent...
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