How do Sheers and Heaney use memories of people? Write about at least two poems from each poet.
Casualty by Heaney is an elegy, separated into three sections of free verse. In the first section, Heaney describes a pub-loving fisherman who he appears to be close friends with, as well as why he was killed. He then describes the day the fisherman’s day of death and funeral. In the final section, Heaney remembers going out on the fisherman’s boat, and suggests him coming back as a revenant.
Haener describes the fisherman’s thumb as weathered’, suggesting old age and a repetitive job. In Show, we can see the repetitiveness of the woman’s’ job with the image of the spectators watching a ‘slow-motion tennis match’. We can visualise the woman repeatedly walking up and down the catwalk, probably multiple times in each fashion show. This repetition could suggest practise, and so perfecting their tasks.
Heaney sounds critical of the fisherman’s unemployment: ‘a dole-kept breadwinner’. A ‘dole’ I a benefit given to someone unemployed by the government, whilst a breadwinner is someone who earn money to support their family. Therefore this ironic statement could be interpreted as being critical of the fisherman. However, the following line implies that Heaney does not blame the fisherman for his unemployment, but perhaps the government: ‘but a natural for work’’. Similarly in Show, Sheers doesn’t blame the woman for her ‘artful hocus-pocus’, instead understanding that she’s only trying to get attention the only way today’s society has allowed her to. She has to dress up and put makeup in in order to be noticed by men.
Heaney uses anaphora to emphasise the fisherman’s stubbornness and the inevitability of his death: ‘whatever threats were phoned, whatever black flags waved.’ His death’s inevitability is father emphasised when Heaney compares the fisherman’s drinking leading him to his death, to being as destined a fish ‘swimming towards the lure’. In Sheer’s On Going, we see the cycle of life and death being unavoidable too. His grandmother refuses life support, and so faces the inevitable cycle.
The imagery of old age and the determination of the elderly is also presented in Heaney’s A Drink of Water and Sheers’ On Going. Heaney uses the simile ‘like an old bat staggering’ to describe the elderly woman. This image is quite cold and unaffectionate compared to Sheers’ oxymoron of ‘an ancient child, fragile on your side’. Both of the women have in common, not wanting support and being self-sufficient until their death.
In the last section of Casualty, Heaney tell us he didn’t attend O’Neill’s funeral, instead choosing to go out his boat because he believed that’s what really mattered to him. From the beginning of the poem we sense that O’Neill is a simple man who has few interest and passions: ‘eels … lore of the horse and cart … the Provisionals’. He shied away from ‘tentative art’ like poetry. And so Heaney, being the insightful poet, understood that he probably wouldn’t want a huge funeral, but for people to enjoy what really mattered to him – tasting freedom. This image can be seem in Sheers’ poem Intermission: ‘I think I understand. That it is after all the small victories that matter, that’s are in the end, enough.’ Intermission is about a power cut caused by trees, which makes the two adults communicate with each other about what they really want in life. It makes them step back from the new society, and focus on the room ‘shrunken to the candle’s halo. In both poets we see a strong connection between how nature can make us see the important things in life.