Dear Mr. Heaney,
I have recently studied your poetry for my Leaving Certificate English course and enjoyed it immensely. I admire the method by which you turn your poetry in to an exploration of more expansive topics. I am going to discuss some of your poems and the effects that they had on me as a reader. A poem I especially admire is The Tollund Man. I found your exploration of the past to interpret the future to be inspiring. I felt that the parallel drawn between the ritual killing Age of the Iron Age and the killings of innocent victims in contemporary Ireland to be particularly insightful. I however see your image of the Tollund Man to be a much more peaceful one as the man willingly gave his life to the “goddess” bog and “she tightened her torc around him” embracing his ritualistic sacrifice so that she may bring the Spring once more. We see this peace in “the mild pods of his eyelids” which suggest serenity, however this is in stark contrast to the atrocities carried out in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. The image of “tell-tale skin and teeth flecking the sleepers” is grotesque and horrifying to imagine, and I feel however you may try that it might be impossible for you to translate the savage murders of the present into the more meaningful death of the Tollund Man. I was deeply moved upon reading the concluding line of the poem where you state that you “feel lost, unhappy and at home” I find your attempt to make bearable the atrocities of the Troubles highly admirable and your desire for your own world to change truly moving. You have said of your poetry that you are searching for “images and symbols adequate to our predicament” but I feel that the sadistic murders of our time may be too horrifying to relate to any killing of the past, ritual or not.
Although your poem “The Forge” may celebrate local craftsmanship and explore cultural roots, it is my opinion that your real purpose in writing this poem was to