Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Bog People—A Reference Frequently Cited in Heaney’s Poems

Heaney got the Nobel prize in 1995. The objectives of the Nobel Prize are peace and idealism. This prize is given to those people who promote human life and have an idealistic approach. It is meant only for those who don’t want to disturb the status quo, who, like Aristotle, want to console rather than inspire people to fight against the oppressors. Such persons suit the exploiters. According to the other group, who are called socialists, you are either against exploitation or you are its supporters. So all those people who are called conservatives, support the exploiters, or defend the status quo, which is the same thing.

Heaney belongs to the conservative group and that’s why he got the Nobel Prize. In recent years the objective of the Nobel Prize has been less the promotion of peace than an opposition to socialistic revolution. That’s why anyone who wrote against China or USSR, is given the Nobel prize whether their any standard work was aesthetically often instated. Much better writers were ignored.
Heaney uses the book, ‘The Bog People’, written by P.V. Glob, in many of his poems. Heaney wrote that the book ‘was chiefly concerned with preserved bodies of men and women found in the bogs of Jutland, naked, strangled or with their throats cut, disposed under the peat since early Iron Age, or even perhaps Stone Age.’ He saw in the book a way to focus a number of his traditional interests, and it offered him a frame of reference, and set of symbols which he could deploy in engaging with the present conflict and its antecedent history.
Glob’s book offers an image of a pre-Christian, northern European tribal society, in which ritual violence is a necessary part of the structure of life. Most of the bodies recovered from the Jutland bogs had been victims of ritual killings, many of them having served as human sacrifices to the earth goddess, Nerthus. Heaney detected a kinship between the pagan civilisations and Ireland’s own Celtic traditions and he used these Iron Age narratives to explore contemporary atrocities.
Heaney’s poems range from the more personal poems about his upbringing and the significance of the ordinary life on the land (‘Digging’), to those that explore the social injustices and violent history of his country. The sectarian violence takes central place in his work and he sometimes addresses specific revenge killings (‘Casualty’, The Strand at Lough Beg’). The Bog poems (‘Punishment’, The Tollund Man’), based on the bodies recovered in the peat of Jutland, are concerned with ancient sacrificial killings that Heaney compares with the contemporary situation in Ireland, and the other major area of his work explores the religious prohibitions on sex that are the cause of children being killed or hidden away (‘Limbo’ and ‘Bye Child’) so that the female is not judged by the society.
Though he is never less than insightful, it’s tempting to divine a special quickening when Heaney writes about his countrymen. Engaged by Yeats, or his contemporaries, Mahon, Longley, Muldoon, he is clearly in his element, whereas encounters with Marlowe, or John Clare, say, seem the result of a more deliberate process of discovery.
The common thread is a spontaneous, insistent relating of poetry to his own experience. His profoundest initiations are fed back through his reading and writing.

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