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A Drink of Water Summary
Seamus Heaney

Everything you need to understand or teach A Drink of Water by Seamus Heaney.

  • A Drink of Water Summary & Study Guide

A Drink of Water Summary


"A Drink of Water," collected in the 1979 volume Field Work, is part of a series of elegies, or poems composed to lament the dead, that comprise much of the first part of the book. In it, the speaker reveals through images and sounds the character of an old woman, presumably a neighbor, who used to come to his well each morning to fill her water bucket. The descriptions in the first eight lines are ones of old age and decrepitude, foreshadowing the woman's death: she is "like an old bat staggering up the field," the pump's sound is a "whooping cough," the woman wears a "gray apron." In the last six lines, she has vanished from the poem physically, but while in life she depended on the favors of the speaker, in death she has become the "Giver," providing the poet with inspiration and perhaps representing to him the...

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A Drink of Water Study Guide

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