Analysis of The Lammas Hireling by Ian Duhig

Hello, guys, we're going to analysis the poem by Ian Duhig it's called The Lammas Hireling. In order to do this we're going to focus on an essay the title of which will discuss the presentation of guilt in Ian Duhig's The Lammas Hireling.

We're going to focus today on five ways that guilt is explored in this poem. We're going to look at it being a dramatic monologue, we're going to look at its setting the imagery surrounding the dream that the farmer experiences, the folklore element and then the Gothic element here.

Now before we start I should just clarify and what's happening in this poem because it is quite a difficult one. So it's called The Lammas Hireling it's about a farmer who goes to a fair and hires a hireling. A hireling is someone that works on the land and the farmers used to go along to a fair to a big meeting of other farmers and people who wanted a job would be there and they would hire them.

So that's the Hireling bit of the title the Lammas bit is referring to Lammas tied which was the harvest season. So instead of being the Christmas Hireling or the Easter Hirling, this guy is The Lammas Hireling because he was hired at Lammas tied. This is important in the poem because Lammas tied is the time when you bring in the harvest and you celebrate the harvest. But for this particular farmer, the harvest goes wrong really in his harvesting of the hireling.

So he brings his hireling home sets them to work on the land everything's goes well until one night he discovers that actually, this young lad isn't all that he seemed to be. He is, in fact, a rather sinister warlock who changes into hair in the middle of the night. The farmer can't cope with this because he knows there so it's sort of bad stuff happening and he goes out in the middle of the night and shoots the hair and he throws him into the river to get rid of him.

Because of this murder of The Lammas Hireling who had turned into a hare. The farmer has a great deal of guilt in his life and he basically spends his days confessing his sin of murder to the priest.

So first off we're going to talk about the form of this poem which is a Dramatic Monologue. The dramatic monologue is when we hear the first person voice in a poem. As if they are talking to another person, in this case, the first person voice is a farmer talking to a priest to whom he is confessing. So straightaway the intimacy of this form of poetry dramatic monologue shows that the farmer has a great deal of guilt because he is confiding in the priest in another person he is confessing. So this is a situation where he is telling his story that brought him into a place where he would carry guilt. So the dramatic monologue is a form where often people confess. You might want to look up a very famous dramatic monologue My Last Duchess by Robert Browning where again there is a sense of guilt and confession although the guy in the Browning poem isn't too bothered that he's guilty.

Secondly, this setting is important here it is revealed at the end of the poem. When the farmer says that he spends his days here it is revealed that he is in a church confessing to a priest. Probably in a confessional a little box I'm sure you've seen this on many films where a Catholic person goes in and confess his crime to the Catholic priests. There's a lot of secrecy surrounding this process and the ritualistic words from the confession are presented here in the poem bless me father is the traditional formulaic start off to a confession. Bless me, Father, for I have sinned that is the formula and here it's notable that the farmer starts confessing at the end of the poem. And this indicates that he is constantly confessing he's told his story and he's about to start again bless me Father for I have sinned and then it's gonna return to the first line of the poem. And talk about his light heart again and going to the fair again. So there is a circularity to the process in this narrative in the structure of the poem and this shows his guilt to be very heavy very deep because it keeps circulating around. He can't shake off the guilt no matter how often he confesses or spends his day here in the confessional.

Another reference to his guilt in this poem is the fact that he cannot dream anymore, in fact, he doesn't sleep anymore. At the start of the poem, he was asleep and he was woken by screaming he was says he was dreaming of his dead wife which is another sinister aspect of this poem. But in the last stanza, he doesn't dream anymore now this ability to sleep and dream suggests that he is tormented by thoughts of the murder and the sinner that is weighing heavily on his soul.

Another way that his guilt is expressed is that he searches for some kind of reason why he might have done this. And he presents this to the priest in the words 'to go into the hair gets you muckle sorrow' 'muckle care'. he says the wisdom runs this way. The wisdom runs means the saying ghost to go into the hair gets you muckle sorrow, muckle care. So the rhythm of this and the repetition of muckle the use of that dialect word muckle and quoting folklore wisdom here. Shows that there is somewhere he's trying to justify the problem that he has got himself into. Folklore says that if you hire someone who changes into a hare you will get muckle sorrow, muckle care. Therefore I killed him because I didn't want muckle sorry, muckle care. But actually, in this poem, it turns out that things go badly wrong for him and his harvest fails the cows don't give milk anymore when he has shot the hare. So the reverse of the folklore happens to him but the fact that he's quoting the folklore suggests that he needs something to justify his actions.

the-lammas-hireling-analysis


The last thing I think it would be important to talk about again returning a little bit to the setting is the Gothic element of this poem. So if you're talking about guilt and bad deeds happening. We trace the light through this poem we see that at the beginning he starts with a light heart but then when he commits this sin this murder the moon came out and there is a dark Lantern involved in his journeying out to find the boy. And the moon it gives yellow witness so the change in the light from a light heart to the more sinister moon coming out which we know is an element of Gothic description always the moon being witness to bad deeds enhances the illustration of this man's story and enhances our sense that he's doing something wrong he's trespassing. Therefore should be guilty and should carry this guilt.
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