Postcolonialism: Love it or Hate it- it’s there. Megan Miller Background Seamus Heaney born in Northern Ireland, won multiple awards for his poetry. “Seen as the greatest Irish poet since Yeats” and he was influenced by British writers too. He translated Beowulf and tries to bring an Irish sound to his poetry written in English. http://www.blogs.uni-osnabrueck.de/zuber_studyskills/tasks/task-for-session-4/seamus-heaney/ William Butler Yeats was “an Irish cultural nationalist, who helped forge Irish cultural identity and inspired the poet-revolutionaries who led the Easter Rising of 1916 against the British.” (p 91) The Norton Anthology of Modern Contemporary Poetry Derek Walcott was influenced by Yeats. “His loyalties to his African ancestry and to the ‘English tongue I love.’” (p 494) The Norton Anthology of Modern Contemporary Poetry He is a successful Caribbean poet who dealt with similar issues as Yeats and Heaney. http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/exhibition/dublin/literary/ W.B.Y.html http://www.amatmoekrim.com/site/?p=115 Introduction to Idea: Postcolonial writers may resent the colonizers, but without them they wouldn’t have the angst or oppression to write about. Not necessarily a binary relationship between the colonizer/colonized, but a dual person who has influences of colonizer and attributes of his native people. (English/Irish) By at looking Seamus Heaney’s poems and discussing the themes we will see how his work is shaped by his upbringing. Show that similar themes appear in Derek Walcott and W.B. Yeats. Literary Critics Say… “For postcolonial cultures include both a merger of and antagonism between the culture of the colonized and that of the colonizer, which, at this point in time, are difficult to identify and separate into discrete entities, so complete was the British intrusion into the government, education, cultural values, and daily lives of its colonial subjects.” (p 419) -Lois Tyson, Critical Theory Today Tyson also says, “Postcolonial theorists often describe the colonial subject as having a double consciousness or double vision, in other words, a consciousness or a way of perceiving the world that is divided between two antagonistic cultures: that of the colonizer and the of the indigenous community.” (p 421) Edward Said’s view: “Said reads a metaphor of the colonial relationship, and the question it provokes: did the colonized benefit from colonization, no matter how violent the structure of the relationship?”… “Although it may be clear that ‘Yeats’s poetry joins his people to its history’, one also notes the fact that in Said’s formulation, agency is with the national poet, not the people, and they are yoked to ‘their history’ whether they wish it or not.” (p 319) -Conor McCarthy, “Edward Said and Irish Criticism” Different themes: Animal relationship between colonizer/colonized. (Hunter/hunted) “As with the colonist/colonized relation, the essential human/animal relation is one of exploitation.” (p 7) Hugh Denard.. “The association of the colonized with animals commonly occurs as part of the colonist’s construction of the “Other” in colonial discourse.” Even though colonizer (British) tries to stress they are better than the colonized; colonized still feels better than them. That they even have a closeness to nature that the British can’t achieve. Punishment I can feel the tug of the halter at the nape of her neck, the wind on her naked front. It blows her nipples to amber beads, it shakes the frail rigging of her ribs. I can see her drowned body in the bog, the weighing stone, the floating rods and boughs. Under which at first she was a barked sapling that is dug up oak-bone, brain-firkin: her shaved head like a stubble of black corn, her blindfold a soiled bandage, her noose a ring to store the memories of love. Little adultress, before they punished you you were flaxen-haired, undernourished, and your tar-black face was beautiful. My poor scapegoat, I almost love you but would have cast, I know, the stones of silence. I am the artful voyeur of your brain's exposed and darkened combs, your muscles' webbing and all your numbered bones: I who have stood dumb when your betraying sisters, cauled in tar, wept by the railings, who would connive in civilized outrage yet understand the exact and tribal, intimate revenge. -Seamus Heaney Theme: Us/Them: “The relation between colonist and colonized becomes essentially one of opposition; the ‘Other’ is not only different, the ‘Other’ is an enemy”. (p 9) -Hugh Denard, “Seamus Heaney, Colonialism, and the Cure” “Betraying sisters” our women were with the English men. That is enough grounds to be tortured on, since those men are different. Those men are the enemy. If the English men are different, they are the savage beasts, than why did the Irish torture the women? Savage/civilized/both From Station Island XII “Who cares, he jeered, ’any more? The English language Belongs to us. You are raking at dead fires, a waste of time for somebody your age. That subject people stuff is cod’s game, Infantile, like your peasant pilgrimage. You lose more of yourself than you redeem doing the decent thing. Keep at a tangent. When they make the circle wide, it’s time to swim out on your own and fill the element with signatures on your own frequency” James Joyce is “speaking” to Heaney that it is okay to write in English. Heaney taking the time to debate writing in English, shows that he feels guilty not writing in Irish language. “The use of native languages often requires native writers to put forth the double effort of writing in their indigenous languages and then translating their work into English or having it translated.” “Many ex-colonials therefore feel they must assert a native culture both to avoid being swamped by the Western culture so firmly planted on their soil and to recuperate their national image in their own eyes and in the eyes of others” Lois Tyson, Critical Theory Today Digging Between my finger and my thumb The squat pen rests; as snug as a gun. Under my window a clean rasping sound When the spade sinks into gravelly ground: My father, digging. I look down Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds Bends low, comes up twenty years away Stooping in rhythm through potato drills Where he was digging. The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft Against the inside knee was levered firmly. He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep To scatter new potatoes that we picked Loving their cool hardness in our hands. By God, the old man could handle a spade, Just like his old man. My grandfather could cut more turf in a day Than any other man on Toner's bog. Once I carried him milk in a bottle Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up To drink it, then fell to right away Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods Over his shoulder, digging down and down For the good turf. Digging. The cold smell of potato mold, the squelch and slap Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge Through living roots awaken in my head. But I've no spade to follow men like them. Between my finger and my thumb The squat pen rests. I'll dig with it. Heaney maybe trying to hide guilty feelings towards this new Ireland. “But I’ve no spade to follow men like them” refers to he is not as good as his father or grandfather. Ireland moving away from farming into industrial as a result of colonization. “This feeling of being caught between cultures, of belonging to neither rather than to both, of finding oneself arrested in a psychological limbo that results not merely from some individual psychological disorder but from the trauma of the cultural displacement within which one lives, is referred to by Homi Bhabha and others as unhomeliness.” (p 421) Lois Tyson from The Cure at Troy Human beings suffer, they torture one another, they get hurt and get hard. No poem or play or song can fully right a wrong inflicted or endured. The innocent in gaols beat on their bars together. A hunger-striker's father stands in the graveyard dumb. The police widow in veils faints at the funeral home. History says, Don't hope on this side of the grave. But then, once in a lifetime the longed for tidal wave of justice can rise up, and hope and history rhyme. So hope for a great sea-change on the far side of revenge. Believe that a further shore is reachable from here. Believe in miracles and cures and healing wells. Call the miracle self-healing: The utter self-revealing double-take of feeling. If there's fire on the mountain Or lightning and storm And a god speaks from the sky That means someone is hearing the outcry and the birth-cry of new life at its term. http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/images/c3/c17242.jpg “Heaney’s work boldly opened up a dialogue between its Sophoclean model and the culture and politics of Northern Ireland. To the Sophoclean representation of a wounded, embittered Philoctetes. Heaney’s version, avoided merely aestheticizing “The Troubles” by the toughness and realism of its tenor, and the long shadows of irony with which it concludes.” –Hugh Denard, Seamus Heaney, Colonialism, and The Cure Mary Robinson and Bill Clinton quoted Heaney created his version in hopes his people would see their similar story in this. Heaney summary Heaney’s writing is a direct result of his postcolonialist upbringing. He is a “hybrid”, he is aware of the impact the English have on him. Questioning himself for writing in English, but he did translate several poems into Gaelic. He was influenced by English writers as well as Irish writers. If he was a writer not under postcolonialism his writing would be drastically different. Even his interest in writing versions like The Cure at Troy. Heaney may feel superior to the English people, but without them he may not be Nobel Prize wining Seamus Heaney. The same can be said about W.B. Yeats and Derek Walcott. Man and the Echo Man. In a cleft that's christened Alt Under broken stone I halt At the bottom of a pit That broad noon has never lit, And shout a secret to the stone. All that I have said and done, Now that I am old and ill, Turns into a question till I lie awake night after night And never get the answers right. Did that play of mine send out Certain men the English shot? Did words of mine put too great strain On that woman's reeling brain? Could my spoken words have checked That whereby a house lay wrecked? And all seems evil until I Sleepless would lie down and die. Echo. Lie down and die. Man. That were to shirk The spiritual intellect's great work, And shirk it in vain. There is no release In a bodkin or disease, Nor can there be work so great As that which cleans man's dirty slate. While man can still his body keep Wine or love drug him to sleep, Waking he thanks the Lord that he Has body and its stupidity, But body gone he sleeps no more, And till his intellect grows sure That all's arranged in one clear view, pursues the thoughts that I pursue, Then stands in judgment on his soul, And, all work done, dismisses all Out of intellect and sight And sinks at last into the night. Echo. Into the night. Man. O Rocky Voice, Shall we in that great night rejoice? What do we know but that we face One another in this place? But hush, for I have lost the theme, Its joy or night-seem but a dream; Up there some hawk or owl has struck, Dropping out of sky or rock, A stricken rabbit is crying out, And its cry distracts my thought. -William Butler Yeats He questions whether his words resulted in people dying. Yeats “reclaims a land colonized by the British; imposes Irish rhythms, images, genres, and syntax on English-language poetry; and revives native myths, place-names, and consciousness.” (p 91) The Norton Anthology of Modern Contemporary Poetry Yeats also moves to another style with his writing, but may not have been the same if he did not start at the Irish nationalist writing. Derek Walcott: “The Schooner Flight” Line 41-43: “I had a sound colonial education, I have Dutch, nigger, and English in me, and either I’m nobody, or I’m a nation.” Walcott is able to illustrate how he is a hybrid. “Walcott asks time and again how the postcolonial poet can both grieve the agonizing harm of British colonialism and appreciate the empire’s literary gift.” (p 495) The Norton Anthology of Modern Contemporary Poetry Where do I go from here? I would research further Yeats and Walcott poems, and possibly other postcolonialist writers. Look for evidence that the colonialism made these writers who they were. Without their upbringing, country, they wouldn’t have written the literature they did. Work Cited Berson, Misha. "In his play "the Cure at Troy" poet Seamus Heaney explores the wounds within." The Seattle Times. 6 Apr. 2008. 18 July 2009 <http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/thearts/2004325045_cure06.html>. Denard, Hugh. "Seamus Heaney, Colonialism, and the Cure." Project Muse (2000): 118. Ellmann, Richard, and Robert O'Clair. "Derek Walcott." Ed. Jahan Ramazani. The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry, Third Edition, Volume 1 Modern Poetry. 3rd ed. Vol. 2. Boston: W. W. Norton & Company, 2003. 494-534. Ellmann, Richard, and Robert O'Clair. "William Butler Yeats." The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry, Third Edition, Volume 1 Modern Poetry. By Jahan Ranazani. 3rd ed. Vol. 1. Boston: W. W. Norton & Company, 2003. 90-143. McCarthy, Conor. "Edward Said and Irish Criticism." Project Muse: 310-35. Ramazani, Jahan, Richard Ellmann, and Robert O'Clair. "Seamus Heaney." The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry, Third Edition, Volume 1 Modern Poetry. 3rd ed. Vol. 2. Boston: W. W. Norton & Company, 2003. 720-49. Tyson, Lois. "Postcolonial criticism." Critical Theory Today A User-Friendly Guide, Second Edition. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, 2006. 417-27.