Many of Seamus Heaney’s poem deal with personal issues such as discovering his identity and his culture, however Act of Union displays an obvious shift from personal to political. This poem talks about the English colonization of Ireland as an ‘act of union and examines the two’s relationship. The poem’s title has an obvious double meaning to it, representing the violent conquering of Ireland in terms of sex. The title is also a clear representative of the heavy use of negative sexual metaphors to symbolize this aggressive relationship between the two ‘lovers’ – Britain and Ireland.
Act f Union is written as a fourteen line sonnet with two stanzas. Heaney decides to write this poem in sonnet form as a deliberate act of irony. Sonnets are often written about love and romantic relationships but in this case, it is used to depict a brutal political relationship. Stanza one of this poem talks about Britain being attracted towards Ireland in a ‘sexual’ way. Heaney begins the poem with many pauses to emphasize on the sudden suspensions. “To-night, a first movement, a pulse,” in order to build up the enormous suspense and tension to create a foreshadowing of an event about to take place, the poet uses three apostrophes in the first line.
Other than the beginning of the poem, this first line also stands-in representing sexual arousal between the ‘couple’. Following on, the poet employs many sexual languages to enhance the imagery he wishes to present regarding this sexual relationship. “…a bog-burst, A gash breaking open the ferny bed…” paints a vivid image of this hyped-up energy about to explode. By using the word ‘bed’, it evidently displays the poet’s intention in trying to incorporate sexual desires and a sexual atmosphere in this poem. There is also a use of contrast between ‘gash breaking open’ and ‘ferny bed’. The phrase ‘breaking open’ has violent connotations which plant images of rape and forced entry. It...