Ancestral Photograph

Topics: Communication

There are several language devices used in “Ancestral Photograph”. To start off, Heaney used simile in the first line, “solid as a turnip”, this phrase suggests that the jaw of the person in the picture is stiffed and unnatural because of the word “solid” meaning something hard.

Essay Example on Ancestral Photograph Seamus Heaney

Except for the phrase mentioned above, there are more that suggests the tension that the person had in the picture. “Dead eyes are statue’s” also suggests a tensed atmosphere because “statue” is a non living thing and it wont move, hence suggesting the person was just like a statue not being able to move.

Enjambments were used widely in this poem, for example, from line 2 to 3 “upper lip…Bullies”. The enjambment emphasized the mouth action of the person; the upper lip was bullying the lower lip. The word “Bullies” gave a sense that the upper lip was overlapping lower lip.

The phrase “silver watch chain” again showed that he was sitting difficultly and was forced to hold the position because it gave an image of that the person was being strapped or tied up with the “chain”.

In the second stanza, Heaney informed about the photo being taken off, with an enjambment “begins to fade.. And must come down”. This enjambment not only showed that his memory and feeling towards the person in the photo is beginning to fade but it also suggested that the picture was very insignificant to him and that it have to be taken down.

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Later on he emphasizes the point that the picture is no longer vital to him with a simile “as if a bandage had been ripped from skin”, this line suggests that it was forgotten because a bandage is normally ripped off when the wound is healed and no more scar could be seen.

At the end of stanza two, Heaney created a image of the picture was the key element protecting the memory of the house with the line “Empty plaque to a house’s rise and fall”. “Empty plaque” was being referred as the place where the picture was placed and it gave an idea that it’s still the same. The clause “house’s rise and fall” was used to show the up tide and the low tide that the family had been through.

In the concluding stanza, Heaney used another enjambment connecting two eminent lines “Your stick.. Was parked behind the door and stands there still”. The clause “Your stick” was representing the herding stick that his father and uncle used when they are at work, and Heaney also expressed that although he didn’t follow his father or uncle’s foot step he still remembers the family career and would carry it on with his own ways with the phrase “stands there still”.

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Ancestral Photograph. (2019, Nov 27). Retrieved from

Ancestral Photograph
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