Pulled out of the land: the poetry of Seamus Heaney and its usage of the past
The culture someone grows up in helps to define that person, for better or for worse. This culture steeps itself into the writer's work, and helps make the writer into who he or she is. For Seamus Heaney, this steeping was done by the rich history of the Ireland that birthed him. Ireland is closely tied to its historical roots, and Heaney's poetry reflects this past-focused thinking. While others may choose to focus their writing on things in the present, Heaney mixes together the traditions that make up Ireland and goes about the present through the past. His writing works to weave together the past into the present, and through this connection Heaney does a variety of work. Some of this interweaving is to raise the past, culture and people, to a higher form, and some of it is to lower the present. Heaney's use of the past, whether through religion, family, trades, or even the land itself, contributes to comment on the present. The rhythm of life, formed through the way the past works through the present into the future, is something that Heaney plays with through his usage of the past in his poems, and therefore Heaney turns what happens yesterday into a comment on tomorrow.