PMc Storm on the Island

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					Storm on the Island
     by Seamus Heaney




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          Who is Heaney?
• Born in Northern Ireland in 1939
• His father farmed 50 acres in rural County
  Derry.
• Much of Heaney's poetry is centred on the
  countryside and farm life that he knew as
  a boy.
• Therefore, strong natural images and
  content both positive and negative run
  through most of his poems
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           Storm on the Island
                             •   Key terms:
                             •   Blank verse
                             •   End-stopping
                             •   Enjambment
•   Key Themes               •   Caesura
•   Natural power            •   Assonance
•   Fear and isolation       •   Oxymoron
•   Man‟s relationship       •   Metaphor/simile
    with nature              •   1st/2nd/3rd person

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              Storm on the Island: Content/meaning
            Present tense. What effect does this have on the reader?


                  We are prepared: we build our houses squat,
 Old and          Sink walls in rock and roof them with good slate.  What is the
 shrivelled.      The wizened earth has never troubled us            poet
 Also             With hay, so as you can see, there are no stacks   describing.
 experienced.   5 Or stooks that can be lost. Nor are there trees
                                                                     How does he
                  Which might prove company when it blows full
                  Blast: you know what i mean - leaves and branches feel about it?
Corn sheaves      Can raise a tragic chorus in a gale
                  So that you can listen to the thing you fear
bundled up
              10 Forgetting that it pummels your house too.
                  But there are no trees, no natural shelter.
                  You might think that the sea is company,
                  Exploding comfortably down on the cliffs
                  But no: when it begins, the flung spray hits
             15 The very windows, spits like a tame cat
                  Turned savage. We just sit tight while wind dives
                  And strafes invisibly. Space is a salvo.          Rapid,
                  We are bombarded by the empty air.                simultaneous
                  Strange, it is a huge nothing that we fear.       firing of
                                                                    artillery
http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/english_literatur
                                         H
e/poetry_slideshow/storm/photoplayer.shtml
           Storm on the Island: Structure and Form
  Why is there no article („the‟ or „a‟)?         Also, the first 8 letters spell
  What does that suggest about the                Stormont, the seat of Irish
  storm?                                          rule. Could the storm have a
                                                  secondary meaning related
                                                  to the troubles in Ireland?

 No rhyming pattern,
 this is called ______
 verse
               We are prepared: we build our houses squat,
               Sink walls in rock and roof them with good slate.
               The wizened earth has never troubled us
               With hay, so as you can see, there are no stacks
           5   Or stooks that can be lost. Nor are there trees

Line 2: what words does the                 Iambic metre which mirrors the speech
metre stress. What effect do they           patterns of English and makes the
have?                                       poem feel like a conversation
                                            H
                 Storm on the Island: Language
Simple, comforting statement of        „squat‟ low down, immediate
strength. Sets the tone as secure      suggestion of the strength of the
and safe.                              wind
„We‟  togetherness, community

              We are prepared: we build our houses squat,            „roof‟ „good‟
              Sink walls in rock and roof them with good slate.      these words
              The wizened earth has never troubled us                have
              With hay, so as you can see, there are no stacks       assonance.
              Or stooks that can be lost. Nor are there trees        Emphasising
          5
                                                                     the connection
                                                                     between the
                                                                     people and
                                                                     nature
 The earth is like an old friend,
 saving them the bother of            Alliteration stresses the solidarity,
 harvesting and the pain of lost      strength of togetherness
 crops
                                      H
               Storm on the Island: Language
Caesura forces the reader
to pause in the comfort of                            End-stopping forces the
this statement                                        reader to dwell on the
                                                      feeling of safety/solidity
           We are prepared: we build our houses squat,
           Sink walls in rock and roof them with good slate.
           The wizened earth has never troubled us
           With hay, so as you can see, there are no stacks
      5    Or stooks that can be lost. Nor are there trees
           Which might prove company when it blows full
           Blast: you know what i mean - leaves and branches

                                                  Enjambment: the blast
Safe and comfortable                              comes at the start of the
tone is disrupted and the                         line, possibly suggesting a
poem becomes more                                 sharp, unexpected gust of
fearful. Caesura used to                          wind.
„break‟ the rhythm
throughout the rest of the
poem.
                                     H
                 Storm on the Island: Language

Conversational style (there are other
                                                                    Chorus is
examples). Draws the reader in. Does it
                                                                    sustained and
emphasise the poet‟s isolation?
                                                                    incessant.


                Blast: you know what i mean - leaves and branches
                Can raise a tragic chorus in a gale
                So that you can listen to the thing you fear
                Forgetting that it pummels your house too.




      „pummels‟ violent, painful image
      and personifies the wind
                                                         End of the line but
                                                         not end-stopped,
                                                         the fear hasn‟t
                                                         taken hold yet
                                          H
                      Storm on the Island: Language

                         Therefore, no „tragic chorus‟. Nature has spared them that.
                         No shelter, emphasises how barren this place is in contrast
                         to the poet‟s earlier, positive view.


                 10    Forgetting that it pummels your house too.    How can the sea
                       But there are no trees, no natural shelter.
„might think‟ i.e.                                                   be company?
                       You might think that the sea is company,
you don‟t know         Exploding comfortably down on the cliffs      What doesn‟t he
                       But no:                                       have if it is?




           Oxymoron: The poet is used to these
           sounds because the storms are a part of
           life. It‟s familiar therefore comfortable.


                                              H
                 Storm on the Island: Language
Caesura: The
pause makes
the reader
consider the
absence of
safety and        But there are no trees, no natural shelter.
comfort           You might think that the sea is company,
                  Exploding comfortably down on the cliffs
                  But no: when it begins, the flung spray hits
               15 The very windows, spits like a tame cat
                  Turned savage. We just sit tight while wind dives
                  And strafes invisibly. Space is a salvo.
                  We are bombarded by the empty air.
                  Strange, it is a huge nothing that we fear.

      Violent language runs throughout the final 6
      lines emphasising the danger and fear. Military
      language (“salvo”, “strafe”, “bombardment”)
      personifies the weather as attacking them.


                                          H
                Storm on the Island: Language
Enjambment:                                                 Simile: „like a tame
suggests surprise at                                        cat‟ a pet, friend,
the sudden change in                                        something the poet is
the „cat‟/sea                                               comfortable with
                But there are no trees, no natural shelter.
                You might think that the sea is company,
                Exploding comfortably down on the cliffs
                But no: when it begins, the flung spray hits
             15 The very windows, spits like a tame cat
                Turned savage. We just sit tight while wind dives
                And strafes invisibly. Space is a salvo.
                We are bombarded by the empty air.
                Strange, it is a huge nothing that we fear.


Caesura: forces the
reader to dwell on the                                    There‟s nothing they
savage nature of the                                      can do. Nature has all
weather                                                   of the power

                                        H
                 Storm on the Island: Language
Their fear is not of                                             “fear.” is a repetition
anything they can see                                            of the end of line 9
or fight. Emphasises                                             only this time it is end-
their powerlessness.                                             stopped. Fear has
                  But there are no trees, no natural shelter.    taken hold and the
                  You might think that the sea is company,       reader is left to
                  Exploding comfortably down on the cliffs       consider this at the
                  But no: when it begins, the flung spray hits   end
               15 The very windows, spits like a tame cat
                  Turned savage. We just sit tight while wind dives
                  And strafes invisibly. Space is a salvo.
                  We are bombarded by the empty air.
                  Strange, it is a huge nothing that we fear.



    “nothing”, could also suggest a fear of
    losing everything; having it destroyed
    by the storm


                                          H
          Storm on the Island: Structure and Form
 “like a tame cat/ Turned savage” this line mirrors the whole poem.
 Starts safe, comfortable, known  frightening, violent.
 Use this to compare the first and last lines



                          like a tame cat/ Turned savage




We are prepared: we build our houses squat



                                       Strange, it is a huge nothing that we fear



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                 Comparisons
• Patroling Barnegat
• Both are first person descriptions of storms, and both
  use alliteration and assonance
• But while Heaney is indoors, protected against the
  storm, Whitman is outside in the midst of it.

• Inversnaid
• Both poems use alliteration and assonance to enhance
  their detailed description of the natural world
• But in Hopkins' poem the wind is benign - 'A windpuff
  bonnet of fawn-froth' - not threatening like Heaney's
  wind.
                             H
                Summary
• Key Themes               • What poems could
• Natural power              you compare this
• Fear and isolation         with?
• Man‟s relationship       • GC: October, The
  with nature                Field mouse
• What could you add       • Pre1914: Patrolling
  to this list?              Barnegat, The Eagle,
                             Sonnet (Clare),
                             Inversnaid

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posted:11/30/2011
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