The poems ‘Limbo’ and ‘Bye Child’ by Seamus Heaney are poems that evoke the casualties of sexual and emotional repression in Ireland, as well as and the oppression of both women and un baptized children, in a time where religion was most prominent and people were confined to the guidelines of the church and it’s community, as it was the ruling power. Both poems present this idea through the use of a child, representative of innocence and vulnerability. Through his poetry, Heaney gives a voice to those who have been silenced by society. Heaney manages to create this extended voice and establish a connection between the silenced characters and the reader.
The poem ‘Bye Child’ encapsulates the feelings that Seamus Heaney has towards mistreated and abused children and reflects the dominant attitudes and ideals of civilization at the time. Heaney exposes the pain and neglect suffered by those who are unwanted by entering their lives and situations and giving them a voice. From the first contextual section of the poem, pain and suffering is prevalent through use of words such as ‘confined’ and ‘incapable’, which readers can interpret an immediate sense helplessness in the child’s situation and gaining reader’s empathy even before the commencement of the first stanza. ‘Incapable of saying anything’ establishes the silencing of the child in a literal sense, which again positions reader to view the context of the child as vulnerable and oppressed by civilization.
Throughout the poem Heaney reestablishes this abandonment of the child by his mother, who is representative of all those who abide by society’s rules and expectations. ‘The yolk of light’ and ‘the lamp glowed’ which despite these being typically maternal images of warmth, is clarified as ‘in their back window’ which is a constant reminder of the neglect from the