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Early Purges - Seamus Heaney

English: Poem Oral Commentary
by

Gordon Chang

on 13 September 2010

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Transcript of Early Purges - Seamus Heaney

Early Purges By: Seamus Heaney Presentation By: Bam A., Part C. & Gordon C.




I was six when I first saw kittens drown.
Dan Taggart pitched them, 'the scraggy wee shits',
Into a bucket; a frail metal sound, Soft paws scraping like mad. But their tiny din
Was soon soused. They were slung on the snout
Of the pump and the water pumped in. STRONG OPENING
Like wet gloves they bobbed and shone till he sluiced
Them out on the dunghill, glossy and dead. 'Sure, isn't it better for them now?' Dan said. The ANIMAL RIGHTS + THE LOSS OF INNOCENCE RESPONSIBILITIES THAT ARE EXPECTED OF
HIM BECAUSE OF HIS BACKGROUND. (FARMING AND KILLING?) Justification of KILLING. The Early Purges
 
I was six when I first saw kittens drown.
Dan Taggart pitched them, 'the scraggy wee shits',
Into a bucket; a frail metal sound,

Soft paws scraping like mad. But their tiny din
Was soon soused. They were slung on the snout
Of the pump and the water pumped in.

'Sure, isn't it better for them now?' Dan said.
Like wet gloves they bobbed and shone till he sluiced
Them out on the dunghill, glossy and dead.

Suddenly frightened, for days I sadly hung
Round the yard, watching the three sogged remains
Turn mealy and crisp as old summer dung

Until I forgot them. But the fear came back
When Dan trapped big rats, snared rabbits, shot crows
Or, with a sickening tug, pulled old hens' necks.

Still, living displaces false sentiments
And now, when shrill pups are prodded to drown
I just shrug, 'Bloody pups'. It makes sense:

'Prevention of cruelty' talk cuts ice in town
Where they consider death unnatural
But on well-run farms pests have to be kept down Suddenly frightened, for days I sadly hung
Round the yard, watching the three sogged remains Turn mealy and crisp as old summer dung
Until I forgot them. But the fear came back
When Dan trapped big rats, snared rabbits, shot crows Or, with a sickening tug, pulled old hens' necks. Enjambment Simile • purge: means to make clean by removing something undesirable
The concensus in our group is that:
The poet's intention is the loss of innocence. • the "first" time Heaney, as a boy, witnesses the farmhand killing kittens (by drowning);

• pitched: threw; scraggy: thin, skinny; wee: very small; shits: worthless, hence undesirable entities, deserving of getting killed From this stanza, we can figure out that the poem is about: We can also notice that Dan Taggart tries
to justify the act of murder by describing
the kittens as 'the scraggy wee shits".
as water gushes into the bucket where they lie
The "s" sound helps us create an aural imagery
• sluiced: made soaking wet; snout: nozzle (prelude to drowning) •Use of alliteration: this can support the reader by simulating the sounds of the kittens, as they struggle weakly for survival. (their tiny din) There are a few dictions and techniques he used in this stanza: As seen here, the older boy (Dan) is trying to protect Seamus' compassion and innocence by deceiving him;

• oxymoron: "glossy" v.s. "dead" • simile: "kittens are like wet gloves"
This is a visual scenary and this emphasizes the "child" within Seamus as he looks at the kittens. • sluiced: washed away

• sogged: soaked; mealy: powdery There are also more acts of murder and killing shown in this stanza;
As seen here, the killing of the kittens clearly has a large impact on the poet; • simile: Describing the kittens as dung. This is a visual imagery; using this technique, Seamus has added another example to back up his idea of "kittens having no usefulness". • alliteration: sickening tug - "g" sound. This is an aural imagery; Dictions and Techniques:


Still, living displaces false sentiments And now, when shrill pups are prodded to drown
I just shrug, 'Bloody pups'. It makes sense:
'Prevention of cruelty' talk cuts ice in town
Where they consider death unnatural
But on well-run farms pests have to be kept down
• On the farms, death is part of nature, and thus it is rationale being pests have to be kept down. • In towns, people can afford to be about killing animals. sentimental
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