How does Heaney explore the conflict in Northern Ireland through his poetry?

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coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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The violent 'Troubles' or political unrest that existed in the North of Ireland when Seamus Heaney was a youing man were bound to be reflected in his poetry but he blended them in so seamlessly into history that they seemed part of the people who lived there. He was never blatant or obvious about the fighting in his poems. For example Wintering Out(1973) and North (1975) present people, context and landscape as a potent but subtle mix. Some critics blamed him for an 'apologist' stance and weaving the mundane into myths, so idealising an unacceptable situation but most believe that Heaney wqs not that crude. His poems are finer fabric than rough clumsy messages and he wove a tangled subtle tale into each one, never wanting to reduce the intricasies of a volatile situaion to mere soap-boxing.

Although he wrote about the violence, it was often in terms of loved ones lost,opportunities missed and the idea of waste. He believed that poets could observe and record but never judge, being in a better position if there were non-political. However, that did not seem to stop influential figures from reqiuesting his opinion on 'the situation' from time to time, events that could soon have become very tiresome for an unwilling spokesperson.

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