Personal Helicon


Personal Helicon

Themes:Childhood experience, wonder at natural world, maturity, loss of innocence, the creative process, why Heaney writes


·         Heaney’s first Collection ‘ Death of a Naturalist’ 1966 – the last poem in that collection

·         Helicon was a Mountain in Greek Mytholodgy where the ‘muses’ lived. They were goddesses of inspiration and knowledge + if you drank from one of the 2 fountains it inspired you

·         Where fable of Narcissus took place

·         Written for Michael Longley who was a fellow poet and friend

·         Wells show reflection just as the poem shows a refelection of Heaney

·         Wells are a source of inspiration for his poetry but he has outgrown them

·         County Derry Mossbawn is personal Mt Helicon

Form and Structure:

·         5 quatrains

·         ABAB -half rhyme, loose structure with a few notable exceptions



·         ‘ As a child’ – adult perspective on childhood, reflecting

·         ‘could not keep me from wells’- much like he cannot keep himself from poetry

·         ‘I loved the dark drop,’ – d alliteration + mysterious

·         ‘the trapped sky,’- reflection, he is reflecting on childhood + metaphor traps ideas in poems

·         ‘the smells of waterweed, fungus and dank moss.’ – use of a list + ‘smells’ sensory language+ sense impression

·         ‘dank’ – aural imagery


·          ‘rotted board top’- assonance – young Seamus revels in the disgustingness but adult Seamus conveys this through used of vowel sounds, almost playful

·         ‘I savoured the rich crash’ – loved sound of wells now he loves sound of his poetry auditory imagery

·         ‘ bucket’ ‘Plummeted’ ‘rope’ – plosive sounds convey excitement of young Heaney

·         ‘So deep you saw no reflection in it.’ – slips into “you” much…


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