Where and When Seamus Heaney Wrote His Poetry


I have chosen to map out when and where Seamus Heaney wrote his poetry, as he is the poet that I have chosen to write my thesis on. Through the use of a timeline and a storyline, I hope to clearly illustrate the movement of Heaney and the growth of his collections. As a poet who wrote about many normal things among more pressing political poems, I think it would be interesting to see where he created his collections, and to see if there is a coherent link between the poetry he was producing and the location in which he wrote it. This sort of mapping will give me a clearer sense of the sort of mind frame Heaney was in as he wrote, whether that is in Wicklow, America, Dublin or Northern Ireland. In turn, being able to clearly visualise and pinpoint Heaney’s movement throughout his life and career, giving myself more background on the poet.

Visualisation 1

For my first visualisation, I chose to create a timeline of Heaney’s collections of poetry, when they were written and where. The data I used was not overly complicated, simply the names of Heaney’s collections, the years they were first published and where Heaney was living at the time. I also understand that collections contain poems which were written well before the collection was a thought in Heaney’s mind, but it is quite likely that many of the poems were written directly for the collection. This allows me to visualise the journey of creation in terms of Heaney’s poetry collections. Importantly, it highlighted to me that in Heaney’s earlier collections, such as Death of a Naturalist up to North, Heaney was removed from the locations that his poetry is founded in, perhaps giving him a clearer headspace to write about his childhood, or the Troubles.

Visualisation 2

For my second visualisation, I chose to create a story map. I used very similar data to that which I had used to create my timeline, however I was able to apply my prior knowledge of Heaney’s personal background to make the connections as to why Heaney and his family had moved around so much. Using this data, it was interesting to see the map clearly, where they moved and how far the moves were. Of course, Heaney’s back and forth to America is difficult to map so I just added it in at the end. Heaney moved further and further away from his birthplace, until the move to Dublin brought him one step closer. I think this is interesting to see mapped out, as Heaney’s domestic poetry details the deep respect and love he had for his family, yet as seen in the map, he spent his whole life moving away from them.

Works Cited

WebsiteNI. “About Seamus Heaney’s Life | Bellaghy | Northern Ireland.” Seamus Heaney Home, seamusheaneyhome.com/about-seamus-heaney/.