Second Response Paper: Sweeney Astray
Transformation in the poem Sweeney Astray by Heaney Seamus is a painful and fascinating process, which shows that exaggerations and the physically impossible events are the primary parts of the narrations that poets compile. The transformation of Sweeney to a bird as opposed to other animals is significant to the story that Heaney intended to pass to the readers. In reality, Sweeney erred by showing disrespect to a religious man, Ronan (Corbett “Sweeney Astray”). Specifically, Sweeney bullied and almost killed Ronan (a priest) thus the transformation into a bird is a critical indicator of how Sweeney went astray.
The conversion of Sweeney into a bird is also significant to the story that Haney presents to the readers by aiding in the portrayal of the book as a tragicomedy (Corbett “Sweeney Astray”). For instance, Sweeney, as the main figure in the poem, encounters various challenges that significantly contributed to the deterioration of his welfare. However, the transformation of Sweeney into a bird as opposed to other animals, in some ways, adversely affects the theme of the poem. Notably, birds are tiny creatures and do not have profound impacts on the welfare of humanity hence reduce the magnitude of the tragedy that befalls the trespassers in the society. Therefore, the use of a unique animal such as an elephant would have critically improved the quality of the story.
An analysis of the transformation that Sweeney underwent at the battle of Moira is literal, and one can attribute the process as the primary strategy that Haney used to improve the quality of the poem (Corbett “Sweeney Astray”). Also, the transformation into a bird is literal as it shows the exaggeration that poets often use to help improve the quality of the narration that they offer to the readers. Even though one can relate Sweeney’s change as literal, an extensive analysis of the nature of events that occurs in the poem indicates that the transformation can also be figurative. Specifically, Sweeney turned into a bird at Moira battle when he disregarded the policies that pastor Ronan had set (Heaney 4). Therefore, the transformation is an indication of the problems that one faces after disrespecting the directions religious personalities provide. The fate that befell Sweeney significantly relates to the calamities that humankind faces by disrespecting the will of the Lord.
The examination of Sweeney’s activities and behaviors shows that he possesses various birdlike traits. One of Sweeney’s birdlike is the decision to flee into the woods (Heaney 76). Similar to birds, the character mentioned above retreated to the woods when his life had a myriad of challenges. Also, Sweeney moves all over Ireland and to other regions such as Scotland and Britain, which is similar to the pattern of birds’ movements in the sky. Although Sweeney posses various birdlike traits, an analysis of some of Sweeney’s behaviors makes a reader conclude that the character above supersedes a bird. Specifically, Sweeney feels it is essential that he changes his way of lifestyle thus contradicting the behaviors of birds (Heaney 83). From the examination of the storyline in Heaney’s Sweeney Astray, it is evident that in the Irish society, birds are cursed animals because the poet above likens the cursed character to a bird. As discussed in this essay, transformation in Sweeney Astray is a tragic and fascinating event.
Corbett, Bob. “Sweeney Astray.” 2013. Web. October 3, 2017.
Heaney, Seamus. Sweeney Astray. New York: Faber and Faber, 2010. Internet resource.