What are some of the poetic devices used in Seamus Heaney's poem titled "Funeral Rites"?
1 Answer | Add Yours
Seamus Heaney’s poem titled “Funeral Rites” effectively uses a variety of literary devices in a number of different ways, including the following:
- Effective metaphors, as in the word “shouldered” in line 1.
- Effective enjambment, as in the absence of punctuation at the ends of lines 1 and 2.
- Effectively ambiguous language, as in the reference to “tainted” rooms (line 5).
- Effectively vivid imagery, as in the reference to the “dough-white hands” of corpses (7).
- Effective assonance, as in the reference to “puffed knuckles” (9).
- Effective parallel phrasing and listing, as in lines 9-12:
Their puffed knuckles
had unwrinkled, the nails
were darkened, the wrists
- Unusually precise phrasing, as in the reference to a “dulse-brown shroud” (13).
- Effectively innovative or neologistic phrasing, as in the phrase “veined the candles,” where “vein” is used as a verb.
- Effective repetition, as in the double use of “hovering” in lines 19-20.
- Intriguingly suggestive and enigmatic phrasing, as in lines 26-27.
- Effective paradoxes or oxymorons , as in the reference to a “neighbourly murder” (35).
- Effective historical allusions, as in line 42.
- Effective combinations of various techniques in a few short lines, as in the use of alliteration, assonance, metaphor, and vivid verbs in lines 45-47:
Out of side-streets and bye-roads
purring family cars
nose into line . . .
- Effective juxtaposition of very long and unfamiliar words with words that are fairly short and very familiar, as in the reference to “Somnabulent women” (50).
- Effective variation in line-lengths, thus arguably preventing monotony, as in lines 62-65.
In addition to using these techniques, the poem also sometimes employs intriguing rhythms and meter, as in the heavily accented phrase “dough-white hands,” in which each syllable (one might argue) is accented equally; or in the later, similar phrase “dulse-brown shrowd”; or in the later, sudden shift to a heavily accented first syllable in “Dear soapstone masks.” However, because the poem lacks any kind of predictable meter, it also lacks any sense of striking, powerful departures from such meter.
Join to answer this question
Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.Join eNotes