In our literature class we read a story called “Journey”, a story that deals with rite of passage. Then we worked on Seamus Heaney and how he deals with Rite of Passage in his poems.
Group work: Silvestre Braun, Margarita Muller and Rosario Vago
Seamus Justin Heaney was born on April 13, 1939, on a farm in the Castledàwson, County Londonderry region of Northern Ireland, the first of nine children in a Catholic family. He received a scholarship to attend the boarding school St. Columb’s College in Derry and went on to Queens University in Belfast, studying English and graduating in 1961.
In 1953, Heaney’s second youngest brother Christopher was killed in a road accident, aged four. This tragic event is commemorated in one of his most famous poems, ‘Mid-Term Break’. After Christopher’s death, the family moved to a new farm, The Wood, outside the village of Bellaghy. Heaney was deeply influenced by the life of country, which later, found expression in his poetry. But then, as he grew up he also watched the industrial mushroom around him, and soon he saw the rural side of Ireland deplete.
We read some poems written by Seamus Heaney and we analyze them!
After reading and analysing the poems in groups I was able to make a connection between them and Seamus life. I was able to spot how he writes things connected with his own life and how many poems include rite of passage.
For example, in the poem “personal helicon”, a boy is described that used to love going to a well where “echoes gave back your own call, with a clean new music in it”. This portrays the innocence and naiveness life of the kid, since he loved doing such a simple thing: going to a well. His “personal helicon”, his instrument, is the well. As a kid, it reflects his joy, so that’s the reason why the well that gives back your own call gave him back clean music. Because he was an innocent and naive boy. When he grew up and went back, the well reflected a dark echo. This is due to the fact, the boy grew up and mature. He lost his childhood innocence. So here is where the rite of passage is described. Moreover I also related this with his life, since the well reflects how he feels, as a child it reflects joy while as a grown up it reflects darkness, guilt. The guilt of being a writer and leaving the farming family legacy.
Moreover we can see another example of rite of passage in the poem “Blackberry-picking”. This poem deals with a boy that picks up a lot of berries and does not understand they will rot. Again, the poet compares childhood with adulthood since that boy realized the fact he should not pick so many berries, because they will rot, when he matured and grew up. Here the rite of passage is also presented, since he passed from not knowing to knowing, from not understanding to understanding and having an epiphany: picking so many berries won’t get you anywhere, ambitions won’t get you anywhere.
Another poem where rite of passage is portrayed is in the poem «Digging». This poem presents a boy who remembers how his father and his grandfather spend their time, digging. He remembers seeing them through the window, while he handed a pen. The pen here is used as a metaphor since he dedicated his life to writing rather than digging the farm. The poem reflects his childhood at the farm. There is a rite of passage since the pen is the tool to dig inside himself and to take out his feelings, he carries deep inside. Instead of using a spade as a tool to dig, he uses a pen. He is «digging» for his identity.