How Important Is the Theme of Childhood/Memory in 'Mean Time' by Carol Ann Duffy and "The Collected Poems" by Saemus Heany?

Topics: Poetry, Fruit, Emotion Pages: 2 (679 words) Published: April 6, 2013
How important is the theme of childhood/memory in "Mean Time" by Carol Ann Duffy and "The Collected Poems" of Seamus Heaney?

In both of these poets collections, the theme of memory and childhood is used often and is a recurring theme throughout their poems. Carol Ann Duffy is nostalgic about the younger times from her childhood, however from adolescence onwards she is bitter, for example in 'Never Go Back' she writes that the memories "swarm in the room, sting you", showing that she has no pride from that point in her life and isn't fond of reminiscing on those times. In Seamus Heaney's poetry, most of the memories from his childhood focus on helping his father at work and family qualities, for example in 'Digging', which portrays his father's job on the farm. There are also forms of nostalgia and family pride here as Heaney looks up to his father, even though we know he becomes a poet instead of following in his father's footsteps. He vows to preserve agricultural traditions by capturing them in poetry, rather than by actually becoming a farmer.

One of Duffy's poems that represents the them of childhood and memory well is 'Beachcomber', where she is reliving a memory from her childhood. It makes her realise that no matter how hard you try you can't go back in time. She uses the line "if you think till it hurts you can almost do it without getting off that chair" implying that she is trying her hardest to rekindle the memory and to remember the exact details, so that it feels as though she is back in the past with her childhood self, when everything was easy and fun. This relates to Heaney's 'Blackberry Picking' where he is also remembering the positive points from his childhood. He always remembers going blackberry picking traditionally with fondness, however the memory is bittersweet as in the end, the blackberry's don't last forever. Heaney writes at the start of the poem "you ate the first one and it's flesh was sweet like thickened wine" which...
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