Analysis of The Forge by Seamus Heaney

Okay so first of all if we look at the context of The Forge as we all know Heaney really familiar childhood scene in which he has remained imaginatively attached. Heaney grew up in a very rural part of Moss born Derry and he has the mesmerizing fascination with the Forge and his book Boyhood in the 1900s when the motor car replaced the horse and the cart as a means of transport. This poem The Forge really focuses on hi the new strange industrialization happening outside contrasts with this magical old-fashioned traditional world of the Forge.

Analysis of The Forge by Seamus Heaney

 So the themes here that could come up or the creative process and obviously the past as well. If we look at the title The Forge and the figure of The Forge and the blacksmith is representative of a traditional disappearing way of life. It also uses the craftsmanship of the blacksmith as a metaphor for the crafting of a poem and obviously Heaney's own creative writing process. The Forge is a metaphor for the mind with its memories and experiences of the anvil or altar where the Portsmouth Labor's and worships the language as we've got a really sophisticated extended metaphor here. The real subject is the secret nature of art Heaney himself said that poets themselves are finders and keepers so I think that's really important and obviously the Forge represent to disappear and we have life as I said earlier

The Forge by Seamus Heaney

And as you can see from the shape of the poem who coined the lines it's actually a sonnet and the structures of the form containing an image of traditional skill and that's really important because the sonnet itself is a very traditional form. Traditionally they are about love and in this one, I suppose you could argue that the sonnet is about love although not romantic love it's about Heaney love of the dying way of life. There's the contrast between the traditional world of the blacksmith and the flashing fast-moving mechanical world or the modern world outside of The Forge. The octet focuses on the forge the sestet that focuses all on the blacksmith and there is a departure here from the traditional Shakespearean rhyme scheme of a b a b c d c d e f e f g g and the Petrarchan a BB a a b c d e c d e. This reflects the fact that the world that surrounds the blacksmith the blacksmith e and his work is beginning to be affected and hence that the change there and the rhyme scheme really reflects the fact that there are changes happening that are affecting this past that Heaney treasures

 If we look at the first line "all I know is that a door is a door into the dark" the tone at the very start is sympathetic and attentive to the blacksmith. It's a first-person perspective as shown through the use of I. The door into the dark hopefully you can see the alliterative d d happening that and this really emphasizes the past the traditional worker skills it's mysterious and fascinating but also a disappearing way of life and for the making of poetry a place of mystery as of yet unknown something to be explored and expressed and the door is the metaphor for the dark of the past and there's connotations of something forbidden as well darkness imagery. And then if we look at outside old axles and iron hoops rusting. You can see that the blacksmith has been doing this for years and that there's the alliteration and the assonance in outside old axles on iron hoops and this reinforces the fact that outside world is lifeless in comparison there's a sense of decay of the outside world with its modernity which has no appreciation for the work he does hence the rusting and the decay imagery associated without rusting there as well. It is eroding the life the world on the work of the forge or the blacksmith it's a passing of time it also hints at the length of the blacksmith era but also shows high everything has been affected by time.

 If we look at line three you can see the juxtaposition of in the previous line the outside the Forge with the inside okay so the juxtaposition there and it emphasizes the energy the strength and the action associated with inside The Forge and the kind of magic that really happens here as well. And then you've got the hammer anvil short pitched ring you've got the ring and which is autumn out of heck, in fact, there's quite a lot of oral imagery in here for such a short poem as well and there's lots of sensory imagery which preserves the or of witnessing this craftsmanship and the elements recorded in a king detail allowing the reader a strong impression of the immediacy and the intimacy and obviously reveals Heaney's fascination with the forge and this way of life.

And then if we look at the unpredictable fan tale of sparks in line four unpredictable suggests that for Heaney witnessing this scene is really like a source or an idea for his poetry it's something inspiring and it cannot be predictable and his ideas for poetry likewise come at random in an unpredictable way aza is the process of creation. Then if we look at the sparks here and it really emphasizes through this word the choice addiction here at the magical process and given to the work. It's a beautiful quality that really brings the work alive.

 If you look at line five you can see that there is an awful lot more onomatopoeia a key and bringing into what I was saying a boy of being a really sensory poor and so the hiss and the sibilants there when I knew shoo toughen so you've got that sibilant hiss and you've got more on my pair which gives off the sense of the forge being noisy and busy a place of creation. Then if we also look at toughen in more detail it is a word that suggest firmness stability and a mastery of his craft this person is a master blacksmith just as Heaney kind of feels maybe that poets who really work at their arts are masters of the spoken word or the written word.

 And then if you look at line six the anvil must be somewhere in the center this relates to the importance of the anvil which is a block of iron on which the Smith hammers on ships's metal. There's a kind of mythical quality given here and due to the anonymous pruning and the fact that there's a sense of mystery surrounding this blacksmith.

 Then if we look at the horned as a unicorn simile and line 7 it gives it a mythical fantastical quality again reinforcing the magic of this place particularly for Heaney and there's enjoyment throughout linking the altar line with his movements reinforcing the idea of the altar as a magical point of transition between the material and immovable world of objects and the fluid invented world of human consciousness as we can see when the stanza continues on and the transition from materials into something created as well. Where he expands himself in shape and music and so it's really interesting too. And so the movable altar if we look at this we can see that there's the alliteration and there's religious metaphor conveying the transient nature of his work the elements of the revered unclarified it's also a place of transformation suggesting the ritualistic aspect of his work he skilled at it. There's a permanence a stillness emphasized by caesura as well throw it this. And then if we look at that he refines the shapeless matter into something firm unworthy of praise or worship so you can see again just skilled this blacksmith is and the ship and music becomes a metaphor for the signs of the forge not dull thuds and slams but something melodic and beautiful and which is also obviously a part of the act of making poetry it's very lyrical it's very beautiful and almost musical in a way.

 And then if we look at this sometimes leather apron tears in his nose and again you've got the alliteration of hairs haze and the alliteration personalizes the blacksmith groynes him in reality the personal pronouns creates really strong visual imagery here and if we look at he leans out on the jam recalls a clatter at first of all for those of you don't know a jam is maybe quite a colloquial word for the side of a doorframe and leans if we look at that reverb choice there's a sense of ease and we can tell that he is happy and content with making his whatever it is he's making in the forge just as maybe Heaney is happy and content with making poetry and the art of poetry. And then if you also look at the recalls a clutter you can see the harsh sea in the middle and you can see the sea here as well so you've got some consonants happening there as well as some automata pair with clutter reminiscing about the forges thriving past. Then if we look at the of hooves where traffic is flashing in rows line we can see that there is a glimpse of threatening modernity coming through and flashing suggests that it's really fast and also superficial flashing is not as captivating as the sparks of the forge that we saw earlier so even the contrast between the flashing and the sparks from up here is really interesting and dr. flashing sorry the light juxtaposed with the mysteries of the dark for dark Forge is also really important here so you've got the darkness the mystery of the magical Forge and then you've got the bright overly harsh lights of the outside modern world as well which just isn't as captivating or mysterious.

 And the fact that there's grows as well is important it's ordered and structured unappealing to the blacksmith who prefers the random fantail of sparks and without their order and structure as order and structure in a way kind of suggests that there's a sense of confinement for being trapped. Then we can see further use of alliteration it is a highly sensory poem grunts and goes you've got more alliteration there then you've got the slam and flick - so the alliteration and the onomatopoeia and shows his distaste at what he witnesses a feeling of his way of life and a world that he wants to view and the automatic hair and reinforces his contempt the fact that he's disgusted at this beautiful traditional disappearing way of life that's so familiar to him. The tone of sympathy at the start where it's kind of Heaney's perspective shifts to a tone of contempt as we see the blacksmiths perspective.

 And then finally line 14 to beat real iron out is significant because it further describes his distaste of the cheap produce of the modern world his continued work demonstrates his faith in the superiority of his material and once we get a really strong sense of this blacksmith's character and this is a really really brief summary of the poem and I'm sure that you'll be doing much more work in class with your English teacher and answering a lot more in-depth questions that will give you a really strong sense of the poem but hopefully this was incredibly helpful as well. Just one more point of note before I finish the fact that it's in present tense is really interesting because it emphasizes this kind of tricky situation where there's a difference between the past and be the present or the future this modern world and where it can take us so it again emphasizes the juxtaposition of these opposing ways of life by having it in the present tense.
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