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Review of Seamus Heaney’s Poem ‘The Thimble’

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Seamus Heaney’s poem ‘The Thimble’ discusses the plethora of uses that a thimble has provided to many different societies and cultures over its time of existence. The thimble is a small closed-end cap worn over people fingertips to protect them from needles while sewing. But ‘The Thimble’ argues that every object is an absent center around which every culture develops a different meaning.

The wording by Heaney in the beginning of the poem is sexually suggestive. When he talks about the carnal mural, he uses the arty word of touch which contains different intentions, and also includes the details of the drawing lips and bite marks. The first section of the poem is written in single unpunctuated sentences, which contains lines of 8 to 10 syllables. In the second section of the poem Heaney uses the literary device of an allusion when he follows the Bible’s archaic usage, he also adds conjunction of ‘so’ to elaborate upon the impact that the idea of spiritualism has a cause and effect. Written in 17 lines, 4 of these sentences construct lines of 5-10 syllables, and also include the plentiful use of enjambment, as seen in line 4. Section three Heaney again uses explicit vocabulary, however this time focusing on pleasure, he also implements a lyrical compound of thirst-brush, which offers a parallel through very different sensual sensation. Written in 10 syllable lines, section three enlightens a question and also mentions the final echo of the human voice. Section four written 4 lines of variable length, in a unpunctuated sentence. Heaney takes a rebellious stand to his stride with no intention of using exclamation marks.

Heaney begins the poem off in section one talking about carnal of murals of the Ancient Roman time period. The paintings that are usually contained on the carnal murals focus on sexually explicit frescos. The painter of the mural uses the thimble as a device to hold the special red paint: “The painter used it to hold a special red” (pg. 94). The thimble, tiny in size and shape makes it easier for the painter to dip his tiny brush in, to finish the fine details of the painting. The special red is used to exaggerate the fleshy texture of the painting and is used to show evidence of uncontrolled passion. Heaney follows up this information by going into detail about how the painter adds the coloration of the red to paintings lips to help exaggerate the frescos unconventional, lustful subject matter. The way he touches the brush to the painting, slowly caressing the canvas adds to the lustfulness of the piece.

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Heaney fast forwards in time in section two, this time the thimble is being used in the medieval world of holy relics. This relic comes in the shape of a Church bell, which until the reformation was revered as St. Adaman’s thimble. Straight out of commission, a bell so hefty no device could lift it to the top of the bell tower. Simultaneously, the workers were coming to the effects of the metal poisoning, one by one all succumbing to a sleeping sickness. A miracle came upon in the form of Adaman, who blessed their hands and eyes, thereby curing them. As a consequence of being cured, the bell shrank to a minuscule size. That being said, the church honored the miracle and registered Adaman’s thimble in the canons inventory.

Heaney in section three goes into lyrical ecstasy, associating with strong shots of liquor in expectation of what seems as a pleasurable side effect. This feeling sprawls the awakening and hankering that needs to be satisfied, “dew of paradise” (pg. 96) is that watering of the mouth anticipation of what is to come. This feeling of hunger and suspense is fueled and excreted out of the speaker because of the mere mentioning of “A thimbleful” (pg. 96). Heaney in section four again fast forwards in time, to a more present day were a puke rock teen is seen; using a thimble as Jewelry. The palish teen with a bald scalp uses the thimble to expresses his emotions; “Wears it for a nipple-cap” (pg. 97). In doing so the teens of the punk culture is rebelling against adults and in doing they so are demanding for their own personal freedoms. The expression was a wave along with other forms of merchandise such as chains and piercings; this was done by both sexes. Section five Heaney leaves off with a one line sign off; “And so on” (pg 97). Heaney believes that the theme of the thimble seems that it is destined to continue to be used in many different variation for times to come.

Seamus Heaney talks about the thimble and its many uses to highlight the idea that a single instrument can have multiple uses than the one it was originally designed for, it is like words with multiple meanings. Heaney’s poem also makes your think about the other devices that we have in our lives and how they can be used in many different ways. Seamus Heaney took an object like the thimble, a object we take for granted and expanded on it from what it truly was, he makes us look at thimble the same way we would look at a math problem, contemplating what to to do with it. Heaney is a revolutionary, he had the ability to take a simple product and write a story on it, which contained true and factual uses of that product give it a brighter light.

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Review of Seamus Heaney’s Poem ‘The Thimble’. (2022, September 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 3, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/review-of-seamus-heaneys-poem-the-thimble/
“Review of Seamus Heaney’s Poem ‘The Thimble’.” Edubirdie, 01 Sept. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/review-of-seamus-heaneys-poem-the-thimble/
Review of Seamus Heaney’s Poem ‘The Thimble’. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/review-of-seamus-heaneys-poem-the-thimble/> [Accessed 3 Feb. 2023].
Review of Seamus Heaney’s Poem ‘The Thimble’ [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 01 [cited 2023 Feb 3]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/review-of-seamus-heaneys-poem-the-thimble/
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