Dark Lies The Island Poem Analysis

2018 Words9 Pages
ENG10130 – Essay 2 – Title 5
The themes of death and loss are explored throughout Seamus Heaney’s collection “Human Chain” and Kevin Barry’s “Dark Lies the Island” in different ways and to varying degrees. In Heaney’s collection, many of the poems are inspired by the pain of losing someone close, whereas the stories in Barry’s collection deal more with loss caused by rejection or the breakdown of relationships, ranging from familial to romantic. In Heaney’s work, the effects of death and loss are most prominent in poems dedicated to someone’s memory, a clear example being “The door was open and the house was dark”. Raw pain can be seen in poems like this, as Heaney battles with feelings of grief but also the desire to overcome this grief and
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Barry prepares the reader for the loss that will be felt by the boy before the rejection with the language he uses. He uses words like “silence”, “poison”, and “stone” to allow the reader to foresee that events will not go the way the main character hopes. The loss described by Barry in this story is more typical than that of “Dark Lies the Island” and is relatable on many levels. It is the type of story that causes the reader to “wince with recognition” (Rich Rennicks, A Trip to Ireland) at how similar it may be to some of his or her own experiences with youth and romance. Barry makes it clear how deeply the narrator of this story feels for the girl whose love he is trying to pursue with detailed descriptions of her, from “the perfect knit of her collarbone” (4) to “the smooth curve of the shoulder” (4). The depth of the narrator’s feelings for this girl makes the rejection and loss all the harder. Barry conveys the rejection felt by the narrator well and it is plain to see from his words that he is wounded, though he tries hard to “muster even the tiniest measure of cool” (6). Barry’s insight into the human conditions of rejection and loss are evident from this story. There is sadness in it but with this also comes…show more content…
From the opening line of the poem the reader can again tell that this is a poem remembering someone who has died; “His shirts hung in the wardrobe” (Heaney, 12). The past tense of “hung” indicates to reader that the man the shirts belong to is no longer here. There is also a certain reverence to the way Heaney uses the pronoun “His” when talking about the contents of his father’s wardrobe. Unlike in “The door was open and the house was dark”, Heaney seems more composed and at terms his fathers death in this poem. Heaney primarily engages with death and loss in this poem through his use of sensuous imagery. Scents often trigger strong memories, which is the case with Heaney remembering his father’s tobacco in this poem. A pang of longing for his father can be seen when Heaney reaches into his father’s pockets and finds “nothing but chaff cocoons, a paperiness not known again until the last days” (13). Heaney’s father’s life is conjured up and remembered through objects like his suit and tobacco, things which he was once associated with. These things bring comfort to Heaney now that his father is gone because he can remember him by them. At the same time it should be taken into consideration that Heaney’s efforts to remember his father is “an aching admittance that he properly cannot.” (Dave Lordan, The Stinging
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