Requiem for croppies
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Requiem for croppies.

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Requiem for croppies

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Requiem for croppies

Requiem for croppies

The pockets of our greatcoats full of barley...No kitchens on the run, no striking camp...We moved quick and sudden in our own country.The priest lay behind ditches with the tramp.A people hardly marching... on the hike...We found new tactics happening each day: We'd cut through reins and rider with the pikeAnd stampede cattle into infantry, Then retreat through hedges where cavalry must be thrown.Until... on Vinegar Hill... the final conclave.Terraced thousands died, shaking scythes at cannon.The hillside blushed, soaked in our broken wave.They buried us without shroud or coffinAnd in August... the barley grew up out of our grave.


Context

Context

  • Requiem for the Croppies was written in 1966 on the fiftieth anniversary of the Easter Rising of 1916 (The Rising was mounted by Irish Republicans to end British rule in Ireland).

  • Requiem for the Croppies, ... is about the 1798 Rebellion, when Irish foot soldiers were killed by the English at Vinegar Hill: 'Terraced thousands died, shaking scythes at cannon'.

  • Early in his career (1963), when referring to the violence in Northern Ireland, he wrote that, “the artist is the custodian of human values, of sanity and tolerance and these are the qualities most needed in the North of today”. So although Heaney was born and raised in the midst of sectarian violence, he has refused to be identified wholly as a political poet. Whilst there is a theme of violence that has plagued Ireland in his poetry, and the relationship between the Irish and the land is a central theme in his later poetry, many commentators have found a certain detachment in his poetry.


Analysis part 1

Analysis (part 1)

  • Heaney tells the story of the 1798 rebellion though the voice of a random dead croppy boy and, therefore, the rebel's point of view. The poem is written in sonnet form - 14 lines - but with no separation of stanzas and describes the struggle of the Irish rebels. The poem shows how the rebels used clever tactics to attack the superior army for example using herds of cattle to march into the lines of the British soldiers. The rebels included priests, tramps, and farmers. A priest, Father John Murphy, led the rebellion in Wexford.

  • The setting of the last lines of the poem is Vinegar Hill where the rebels were defeated and by describing the hillside as "blushing", Heaney expresses the vast amount of blood that was shed.


Analysis part 2

Analysis (part 2)

  • The pockets of our greatcoats full of barley...No kitchens on the run, no striking camp...We moved quick and sudden in our own country.The priest lay behind ditches with the tramp.A people hardly marching... on the hike...We found new tactics happening each day: We'd cut through reins and rider with the pikeAnd stampede cattle into infantry, Then retreat through hedges where cavalry must be thrown.Until... on Vinegar Hill... the final conclave.Terraced thousands died, shaking scythes at cannon.The hillside blushed, soaked in our broken wave.They buried us without shroud or coffinAnd in August... the barley grew up out of our grave.

Repetition of the word “no” to emphasis how much the croppies went without

Tone: shock of having to hide in their ‘own’ country

Priest usually a member of society with high respect and tramp on the opposite end of spectrum.

Change in pace and tone: tone slows down and tone becomes moody to emphasise the sad fate of the croppies

Imagery: “waves” of croppies running into battle, and as they die their blood “soaks” into the hillside, which “blushes” with the overwhelming deaths.

Personification of hillside emphasis of the blood shed that occurred

Cycle of nationalist fight.


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