Seamus Heaney is called “the greatest Irish poet since Yeats” because of his poetic excellence, incredible poems and outstanding bardic quality of converting ordinary incidents into an imaginative realism. Some poets have good imagination, some have good writing style, whereas others have exact choice of words to be used in their poems. Milton expanded the blank verse; Wordsworth renewed nature, William Shakespeare redefined life but Seamus Heaney is among those writers, who renewed history. His poems are based on rural life and incidents. He creates pastoral pictures using simple vocabulary with the mixture of conventional language. As a poet, Seamus Heaney is the representative of Irish society and every word of his poems screams when the agony, suffered by Irish society, is presented in detail by him.
Seamus Heaney won the noble prize because of the bardic quality in his poems. Throughout the ages, he has been read over around the globe. Furthermore, he was the greatest among Irish poets. Undoubtedly, there are a lot of English poets, who are better than Seamus Heaney in one way or the other but Heaney has a matchless imagination to picturesque everyday’s incidents of life. He creates a pen picture from psychological condition of mind. He crafts it so masterly that no complexity can be found in it. It is as clearer to the readers as it is to the poet. Through pen, he portrays emotions and feelings; therefore, his poetry is not only read but felt by the readers. The notable example, in this regard, is his poem “Constable Calls”, in which mental status of a young boy has been sketched by the poet. Two main themes, fear and dread, are rendered. From start of the poem, the boy stars fearing from the constable and with every line it increases and creates suspense for the readers. No one can surpass Seamus Heaney in describing the exact incident in lyrical form. He with the power of imagination creates painting of words, which can easily be visualized. Hence, his powerful imagination is his weapon of dealing with an issue in poetic style.
Seamus Heaney is a pure bard as he has bardic quality in his poems. He is bard, not in Greek context but in Irish context. He always imagines and talks about Irish society and their ancient times. Having a good experience of Irish society, he forcibly draws attention of the readers towards most important historical problems. Such like examples can be found in “The Tulland Man” and “Constable Calls”. Unlike John Keats, Seamus Heney does not do poetry for the sake of poetry but to deal with social problems. The root cause of his poetry is to sketch the past of Ireland. His experiences are hard and being an artist he cannot find peace until he shapes his experiences into words. He highlights social issues, which have universal appeal. It is, therefore, his attitude and tone is gloomy and depressed in every poem. Imaginative but real miserable condition has been presented by Heaney in his later poems. He is a true Irishman and being a true patriot, loves his fellowmen and advocates their sufferings. There is no doubt that his poetry mainly concerns with Irishmen.
In addition to Irish culture, Heaney’s poetry also deals with times gone by. In his poems, readers welcome history; especially, the history of Bog people. “Tulland Man”, “Grauballe Man”, and “The Lindow Bodies” are remarkable examples of bog poems. He has a good collection of themes to put them one by one or as a whole in his poems. He is sensitive from his childhood and thus very minutely observes the tense situation. Fear and dread are two formal themes, which he keeps common in every poem. His visualization is vivid and his mind captures every detail of an incident. The “Tulland Man” is a poem based on an incident, which he observed in his childhood but after growing up when he wrote this poem, it had amazing freshness in it. His vision and memory is strong and even with the passage of time does not fade. He presents an episode from his consciousness in form of words; no matter how old that incident is, it always has freshness in it.
Seamus Heaney has a separate place in the history of literature. He is great in describing a situation. His language is simple and colloquial. His vocabulary is conventional. His themes are dark, gloomy, depressed, painful and distressing. He deals with social issues. He discusses minute details of every occurrence with the combination of imagination. He commands people through words of his poetry. His poetry leaves influence on the readers. Of course, he can be compared to Yeats with regard to his talent of expressing the suppressed emotions. He presents that society, which has been ignored even forgotten by the people. He does not tell the whole tale but a specific incident from it and that’s all from his side; readers can realize symbolism attached to it. His imagery is vivid. He paints pictures from rural areas of Ireland including mountains, farms, crops and green-lands. No writer has ever presented his motherland as patriotically as Seamus Heaney has done. He often uses metaphors and very less similes but he is familiar in using techniques like onomatopoeia. Sometimes he follows iambic pentameter. It should be noted that style of Seamus Heaney may not be different from other poets but bardic quality in his poems makes him a unique poet. It is matter of fact that he is not as lyrical as compared to his opponents, however, his imagination is praiseworthy. His description of imagery is superb. A critic if of the view that Seamus Heaney was awarded for noble price just because he was best among Irish poets and he had never been compared to English poets.
Here we have differences in opinions. Seamus Heaney was awarded with noble price because he was a pure poet. It is not matter of comparison; every poet like Seamus Heaney has his unique bardic quality in his poems, which can rarely be found in the others. He is among those, who gave awareness to the readers through his poetry. If we are debating today Seamus Heaney then indeed it is due to splendid bardic quality in his poems.
- Discuss Bardic quality in the poems of Seamus Heaney.