Few writers can boast such an impressive volume of work as Seamus Heaney has produced in the last thirty years: nineteen books of poetry, nine poetry pamphlets, two books of selected poems, one-book length verse translation, three collection of essays, one play, and two anthologies of poetry. And few writers in their lifet6ime achieve the kind of popularity and reputation that Seamus Heaney has" http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0231119275/ref=sib_rdr_ex/103-2?%5Fencoding=UTF8&p=S008#reader-link
Seamus Heaney is one of those names, which cannot be neglected or avoided because he was one of the famous poets of the Irish literature. His contributions and achievements in this line of work are numerous and each one of them is simply amazing. Seamus had an inborn talent of writing on various topics and subjects, he visualized and observed his talent for writing and pursued it in the form of a career. Seamus Heaney's works are considered to be those works of literature, which can pass on from generation to generation. Heaney made use of his wide imagination powers and skills; he possessed the characteristic of transforming his thoughts in form of words. His volume of work clearly signifies the point that Seamus loved writing and he sued to write with utmost concentration and attention on his subjects, which he used to select for writing. Each of his work is in itself a masterpiece.
Heaney was born on April 13, 1939, the eldest of nine children, to Margaret and Patrick Heaney, at the family farm, Mossbawn, about 30 miles northwest of Belfast in County Derry. While at St. Joseph's he began to write, publishing work in the university magazines under the pseudonym Incertus" http://www.ibiblio.org/dykki/poetry/heaney/heaney.bio.html
Heaney was the eldest of nine children in his family and that is why he had much experience of; life, he used to make use of these experiences and imagination in his writings. Seamus developed his writing talents at the college level where he realized that he was capable of writing on different topics and eventually his works were published in the university magazines. From that particular period of life he began to take interest in more and more writing assignments and finally a very distinguished and distinct writer emerged who became famous gradually amongst the people of all age groups.
Heaney's first book, ELEVEN POEMS, appeared in 1965. At the age of 27 he won in 1966 the Eric Gregory Award with DEATH OF A NATURALIST. With these works Heaney established his reputation as a poet" (http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/heaney.htm)
It was in the year 1965 when heaney's first book was published, this book was widely appreciated and praised by the readers followed by Eric Gregory award in the year 1966,heaney's started to gain wide attention from the readers and finally he became successful in developing his reputation as a poet. Heaney's work mostly consists of poetries based on Irish experiences and culture. The readers can grasp all the details related to Irish culture through the poems of Seamus Heaney.Various aspects of the Irish life can be observed in his poems, but his poems mainly concentrated on "bog people"
Seamus Heaney's works were based on the fact that "Poetry cannot afford to lose its fundamentality self delighting inventiveness, its joy in being a process of language as well as a representation of things in the world" (http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0374524882/ref=sib_rdr_ex/103-2?%5Fencoding=UTF8&p=S00Q#reader-page)
Seamus believed that poetry is a means of expression and should not lose its fundamentality or its purpose, this why whenever Seamus used to write his poems he paid special attention to every specific details related to the specific subject o which he wanted to write. Seamus also believed that poetry is considered to be a process of language through which a writer can represent various things of the world. Seamus realized that a person could only make use of his writing power to for representing his views and opinions regarding a particular topic. Seamus immense interesting writing was a source of inspiration and motivation for him and on this basis he was able to write on variety of subjects of his own interest.
In the course of his career, Seamus Heaney has always contributed to the promotion of artistic and educational causes, both in Ireland and abroad. While a young lecturer at Queen's University, he was active in the publication of pamphlets of poetry by the rising generation and took over the running of an influential poetry workshop, which had been established there by the English poet, Philip Hobsbaum, when Hobsbaum left Belfast in 1966. He also served for five years on The Arts Council in the Republic of Ireland (1973-1978) and over the years has acted as judge and lecturer for countless poetry competitions and literary conferences, establishing a special relationship with the annual W.B. Yeats International Summer School in Sligo" (http://www.nobel.se/literature/laureates/1995/heaney-bio.html)
Seamus was also a man of dignity and high character he used to involve in the assignments for the promotion of artistic as well as educational causes. The interests and direction of Seamus helps an individual to realize that Seamus was always interested to work for the well being of the people of Ireland and he used his poetries as a tool to address the people of Ireland regarding their culture, life and experiences. All in all, Seamus had spent a wonderful life in which he served his people and simultaneously he contributed to the Irish literature in the form of his distinct poems.
EXPLICATION AND CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF THE POEM "PUNISHMENT"
His "bog poems," including "Punishment" (2.2821-22), are meditations prompted by the discovery of the bodies of ancient men and women preserved in the bogs of northern Germany. For Heaney, the "bog is a memory bank." Heaney's interest in the ancient cultures of northern Europe lies behind the decision of this Irish poet to translate what is usually regarded as an "English" poem, Beowulf. At the same time, he remains acutely aware of how national and linguistic divides impact every aspect of writing and of life." http://www.wwnorton.com/nrl/english/NAEL71/Period1MiddleAges/CourseSessions1/BeowulfTranslator.html
The poem punishment is based on the description of bog body, in this poem he has described various themes at one point for example after reading and understanding the poem thoroughly one can know that the poet has discussed both beauty and sexuality and further he has also discussed the compromises which are made under coercion and force. In this poem the poet has emphasized on a young girl who has committed adultery.It can be inferred from the poem tat although the poet has tried to open a new direction to connect past and present but unfortunately his ideas and thoughts are somewhat unclear for the readers to actually grasp what the poet really want to say.
Seamus Heaney's "Punishment" draws its imagery in part from P.V. Glob's 1965 study of bog mummies, The Bog People. These mummies have been found mostly in northern Germany and Denmark and more recently in the British Isles. Many of them are 2000 or more years old are remarkably well preserved by the unique chemical properties of bog water." (http://lmccaule.intrasun.tcnj.edu/windeby.html)
The main idea and concept of the poem punishment was taken from the study of bog mummies, which have been found in Northern Germany. The poet has made an attempt to make the readers aware of the feelings of the young adulteress, which has now changed, in the form of a mummy, but the problem lies in the point that it is very difficult to understand and interpret the feelings of mummy and imagines her to be alive. Seamus has also tried to tell the readers regarding the violent attacks, which are made on a women, he has tried to show sympathy towards the young adulteress who was punished for her sins. "However, this poem effectively puts us into the imaginative position of watching someone being executed for having committed adultery, a sin any of us might be tempted into committing." http://www.lorenwebster.net/In_a_Dark_Time/archives/cat_seamus_heaney.html
The poem punishment is related to the conflict of Ireland in early periods. The poet has shown the rude and cruel attitudes, which the people of Irish society used to suppress women. The poem punishment has tried to make the past alive so that the people of today can understand the cruel practices of the early leaders as well as ancestors and can stop these actions from implementation in today's world. Heaney's poem the punishment is appreciated as well as discouraged by several writers and poets of that particular period. According to them the poet has paid much emphasis on the feelings of an adulteress which was a young girl and he has not taken into consideration other related circumstances and situations. This poem is related to the dead people and the readers are mostly not interested in reading about the circumstances, the adversities, the hardships and the ultimate end of the dead people.
The bog poems of Seamus Heaney have been read and reviewed in different ways: admiration as well as strong negative criticism characterize the ambivalent reaction of critics to these poems. The fact that they have received such attention indicates…