Sunday, 29 September 2013

The Early Purges - Seamus Heaney

The Early Purges

I was six when I first saw kittens drown.
Dan Taggart pitched them, 'the scraggy wee shits',
Into a bucket; a frail metal sound,

Soft paws scraping like mad. But their tiny din
Was soon soused. They were slung on the snout
Of the pump and the water pumped in.

'Sure, isn't it better for them now?' Dan said.
Like wet gloves they bobbed and shone till he sluiced
Them out on the dunghill, glossy and dead.

Suddenly frightened, for days I sadly hung
Round the yard, watching the three sogged remains
Turn mealy and crisp as old summer dung

Until I forgot them. But the fear came back
When Dan trapped big rats, snared rabbits, shot crows
Or, with a sickening tug, pulled old hens' necks.

Still, living displaces false sentiments
And now, when shrill pups are prodded to drown
I just shrug, 'Bloody pups'. It makes sense:

'Prevention of cruelty' talk cuts ice in town
Where they consider death unnatural
But on well-run farms pests have to be kept down.


I chose this poem because it strikes me as being very descriptive, brutally honest and I found it interesting that Heaney discussed a true life event from his childhood.

Heaney's use of sound imagery and visual imagery is very strong in this poem. He uses it very effectively as it gave me a very strong image of the kittens being drowned, and the other animals being killed. I think that his descriptive language really caught my attention, and made this poem more alive and that's why it struck me.

The fact that the poem is so brutally honest, further makes it more alive and makes the descriptions ring more true. I find it very saddening that Heaney writes that he witnessed these things at such a young age. "I was six when I first saw kittens drown." Perhaps the idea that Heaney's innocence was taken along with the animals' lives shoots brutal honesty into the poem, thus striking a chord with me. Of course, every child's innocence is lost at some stage. Perhaps when adolescence kicks in, an eye-opener occurs to every teenager and the realistic look on life sets in. Heaney's realistic look on life was forced on to him from a young age. "And now, when shrill pups are prodded to drown I just shrug, 'Bloody pups'. It makes sense...on well-run farms pests have to be kept down." I think that maybe this outlook was forced on to him by Dan Taggart from a young age. I think we're all exposed to similar behaviours when we're young. We're explained actions by older people in a biased way - in a way that agrees with the teachings of whoever is explaining. The fact that I can relate to this makes this poem have very similar themes and very interesting to me.

I find this poem to be very striking because Heaney discusses the transition of thought that occurred from his experience of the kittens drowning at a young age, to his look on the event as an older, more matured man. His understanding and reasoning for the deaths of the animals changes, and he sees their disposal as purposeful and necessary as he gets older. I find this interesting as I too have experienced a similar experience, only mine was about setting traps for mice. So I find that theme of the poem to be rather striking and it left a strong impression on me, due to the fact that I could understand and relate to Heaney's transition of understanding.

I thought the poem "The Early Purges" by Seamus Heaney was striking because it was descriptive, brutally honest and it dealt with an event from his childhood.


John Cena said...

yup outta you Jessica x

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