An exhumation : poetry of Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes: disinterred ancient texts

Smith, Lenore (2005) An exhumation : poetry of Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes: disinterred ancient texts. Masters (Research) thesis, James Cook University.

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Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes are major English language poets who, like others, disinter the bones of ancient texts and reclothe them in living flesh. This thesis argues that the poems discussed, which were published in the last decade of the twentieth century, expose and explore themes and ideas that have determined human action from ancient to modern times. Heaney, who is Irish and has an English publisher, is installed at the centre of the Anglo-American literary canon. Conversely, apart from Birthday Letters which offer segments of his relationship with Sylvia Plath, Hughes is largely ignored by American critics. In dealing with Hughes’ last long poems, this thesis fills a gap in the critical literature. Examination reveals Hughes’ work to be as powerful, disturbing, appealing and pertinent for modern readers as Heaney’s.

The focus of the study is a detailed analysis of the poetry’s power in a 1990s context of war, oppression and intermittent peace. Basic to the analysis is Heaney’s repeated assertion: “the way an artist engages with the modern world is through the techniques of his art among other things, it doesn’t have to be modern subject matter at all, I think” (qtd. in John Haffenden 66). The thesis establishes Heaney’s ideal of modern relevance by exposing through close analysis continuous patterns of themes and ideas from ancient to modern times. Concurrently, the argument demonstrates similarities and differences in Heaney’s and Hughes’ poetic techniques.

Item ID: 15404
Item Type: Thesis (Masters (Research))
Keywords: Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, twentieth-century poetry, authorship, translation, ancient texts, modern relevance, language, poetic technique, archetypal patterns
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2011 22:49
FoR Codes: 20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2005 Literary Studies > 200503 British and Irish Literature @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9502 Communication > 950203 Languages and Literature @ 100%
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