Seamus Heaney: The Underground Date: Objectives: 1. Introduce
Seamus Heaney: The Underground Date: Objectives: 1. Introduce and annotate the poem 2. Explore the themes of Love, Running Away and Impulse. Warm up: What do you think of when you see the title The Underground
What images come to mind? Write down your thoughts. Seamus Heaney: The Underground Date: Objectives: 1. Introduce and annotate the poem 2. Explore the themes of Love, Running Away and Impulse.
Warm up: What do you think of when you see the title The Underground What images come to mind? Write down your thoughts. Context for Heaney He grew up a Catholic in Northern Ireland in the 1940s. Tension between Catholics and Protestants shaped his life. When he was starting to write, things started getting
extremely violent in the North. He saw it as his duty to try to help by telling people whats really important (love, family, nature, peace etc) Context for this poem. When Heaney got married, he went on his honeymoon to London. This poem captures that energy and the story of newlyweds. The Underground
by Seamus Heaney There we were in the vaulted tunnel running, You in your going-away coat speeding ahead And me, me then like a fleet god gaining Upon you before you turned to a reed Or some new white flower japped with crimson As the coat flapped wild and button after button Sprang off and fell in a trail
Between the Underground and the Albert Hall. Honeymooning, moonlighting, late for the Proms, Our echoes die in that corridor and now I come as Hansel came on the moonlit stones Retracing the path back, lifting the buttons To end up in a draughty lamplit station After the trains have gone, the wet track Bared and tensed as I am, all attention For your step following and damned if I look back.
Notes Form There are four-line stanzas with variable rhyming (internal and half-rhymes), meant to convey the energy and excitement of the newlyweds. There are only two commas in the first two stanzas, showing the break-neck pace of the couple. (How would you describe a couple on their honeymoon?) Notes line 1-8
The poem opens with the couple running from the London train to the Albert Hall (concert). Buttons are flying off her coat and their dash is compared to a Greek legend. Pan and Syrinx: A wood spirit woman ran away from a goat man (Pan), turned into a reed (plant) and he made Flutes out of her which played sad music. (Thoughts?) Notes Lines 9-12 Time has passed and the poem can explain things.
While the poem began There, the tenth line concludes with now. He is now Hansel, retracing the path they made on their Honeymoon. Hansel and Gretel what do you know? Notes Lines 13-16 The journey ends in the train station when all the trains have left. He is tense, listening for his wifes footsteps
behind him. He is either too stubborn to look behind him, or he has realised that now they are married, he must trust her that she is following him. (Have you heard of the story of Orpheus and Eurydice?) Notes Lines 16 In the Greek legend of Orpheus, the musician goes to the underworld to rescue his dead wife. His music moves Hades who says she must stay behind
him till they are out and he must not look back. He looks back. Final Note There are lots of classical references in the poem about love and music. They create the images of the poem, merging the ordinary life with something legendary. Questions: Remember quotes.
1. Who leads and who follows in the poem? Does this change in the second half? PQE 2. Did you enjoy the references to other stories in the poem? Choose one story and discuss what we might learn from it. PQE 3. Which statement best describes the poet in your opinion: He is romantic. He is Stubborn. He is Determined. Explain your choice.
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