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Seamus Heaney's work hasn't influenced him to make aesthetic judgments as much as it has reflected the impact of the history and politics of Ireland upon his life and perceptions.
Heaney poetry frequently pays tribute to the physically hard labor of the historic Irish farmer or laborer. He salutes the value of that work when he remembers the "old bat staggering up the field" in order to work the pump so the speaker could have "A Drink of Water."
Much of his writing explores the impact through many years of the sectarian struggles and violence that have shaped so much of Ireland's politics, history, and culture. He has a deeper appreciation for his heritage because it has come at such a high cost. The words of "Whatever You Say Say Nothing" are filled with references to the "troubles" that continue to influence Ireland's perception of itself and how people should act.
It's tempting here to rhyme on 'labour pangs' And diagnose a rebirth in our plight But that would be to ignore other symptoms. Last night you didn't need a stethescope To hear the eructation of Orange drums Allergic equally to Pearse and Pope.
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