The Irish Poetry and Postcolonialism

Topics: Ireland, Seamus Heaney, Republic of Ireland Pages: 7 (2255 words) Published: December 13, 2005
Ireland was a British colony for more than seven centuries, for this time it was hidden their native identity, as well as their language. The British colonizers imposed not only their language but also their culture. In 1922, it was signed the Treaty in which Ireland was considered a free state.

As and introduction to Heaney poems, I will use a poem of Yeats, who is the poet that starts to talk about postcolonial themes. Maybe Yeats was one the most important figures in the reconstruction of the Irish identity. He represents the relationship between Ireland and Britain in his poem "Leda and the Swan". The first publication of this poem was in the radical magazine "To-morrow" in 1923. Some years later it was republished in the newspaper "The Tower" in 1928. However, this second time the author made some changes in it . In this poem Leda represents to Ireland while Swam represents the British colonizers. In the line 4 we see a metaphor of situation of Ireland during the colonization, which is; "He holds her helpless breast upon his breast" Ireland could not do anything, it felt helpless, and it was ruled by the British. If we think about the text as a whole metaphor, we should come back to the Greek myth. In the mythology we can see as Clitemestra was born as a consequence of the rape. And later, she was who killed to Agamenon. In the poem line 11 "And Agamenon dead" means the retreat of England and as a result the Liberation of Ireland from the colonizers. From my point of view this is a quiet significant poem with a political meaning. However it reflects the oppression of Ireland in that moment, and also the desire of the Irish people of living in a country without the British domination, as in the social life like in the religious.

In spite of this poem, not all the critics consider him as a postcolonial author. Seamus Deane defines his poetry as "a strong cultural nationalist, but just as often he accuses Yeats of writing out of reductive visions of Ireland" . "

Another of the important author who is interested on the political identity of Ireland is Seamus Heaney. "Bloom identifies a crucial theme in Heaney's work, and one which indeed organizes his preoccupation with the establishment of poetic identity" Heaney emphasizes the national consciousness as a consequence of the colonization. However, he does not use a direct style to talk about the Irish identity, but he uses the metaphors to talk about that. An example is his poem entitled "Digging" in which he talks about his past which is related to the past of Ireland. The beginning of the poem is a little bit violent, when the poet declares his powerful with the stanza "snug as a gun", but this violence changes at the end the poem when author says: "Between my finger and my thumb

the squat pen rests
I'll dig with it"
What the poet means it is that his weapon to dig is his pen. Searching for the metaphorical meaning of these stanzas, we can realize that what the poet wants to say it is that he is ready to look for his roots, to fight for his past the past of Ireland. In fact, this is the only way in which he can dig, because as he states throughout the poem, he does not think than he could be able to dig, moreover, he does not think that he could be able to do that kind of work at old age like his father or his grandfather.

Also the poem shows how the young Heaney look up to his ancestors who are digging the land (line 3-9): " Under my window, a clean rasping sound when the spade sinks into gravely ground My father digging. I look down.

Till his straining rump along the flowerbeds Bends low, comes up twenty years away Stooping in the rhythm through potato drills...
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