Introduction & Overview of A Drink of Water by Seamus Heaney

This Study Guide consists of approximately 19 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of A Drink of Water.
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A Drink of Water Summary & Study Guide Description

A Drink of Water Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains For Further Study on A Drink of Water by Seamus Heaney.

"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 maturing process of poetry itself—the aging of his muse. Filled with careful rhythms and intricately patterned sonic elements, the poem is a good example of the sonnet in contemporary poetry—a form Heaney explores extensively in Field Work.

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This section contains 187 words
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Poetry for Students
A Drink of Water from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.