Irish Poets

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John Montague and Seamus Heaney are two of the most well known Irish poets who both deal with death in different and similar ways in a variety of their poems. Two poems that relate to the theme of death are The Locket by John Montague and The Strand at Lough Beg by Seamus Heaney.

Neither title gives an obvious hint of the theme however The Strand at Lough Beg tells us the specific location of the poem making the events more real whilst The Locket suggests something romantic, quaint and precious about the poem. Both poems are very similar in that the poems are addressed to a single person. The fact that both of these people are dead makes them very personal and the reader is able to feel much empathy for the narrator. Montague draws the reader in by using bare, plain and direct language, which shows the reader the truth and reality of this biographical poem and the situation between the narrator and his mother. Heaney also makes the events in his poem very real for the reader as it is a narrative piece and the use of specific names and exact details such as “Church Island’s spire” also shows that these events were real and significant.

Heaney’s use of long sentences takes the reader on a journey and shows how the narrator is travelling away from civilisation to the place of his cousins tragic death. They also add weight to the sombre and lonely tone, which is carried through the poem. However the “white glow” we see at the beginning of the poem and the beautiful landscape makes this poem seem almost warm and draws the reader in. The Locket is also sombre and lonely throughout but has a more cold and uninviting tone than The Strand at Lough Beg. Montague uses long vowel sounds in the first verse for example, “Sing a last song for the lady who has gone”, to set this tone, almost mimicking a melancholy funeral song. Long vowel sounds are also used in The Strand at Lough Beg when Montague is showing the gentleness of the rural landscape and its discreet role...
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