A Drink of Water Criticism

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In his 1988 book The Poetry of Seamus Heaney, critic Elmer Andrews explores the development of

Heaney's vision in Field Work. In poems like "A Drink of Water," Andrews writes, "Heaney's muse is no longer the mythological goddess of Irish history, the implacable 'black mother.' Instead he develops the image of the domestic muse or sibyl." "A Drink of Water" is a "haunting little poem," Andrews writes, and an example of Heaney's re-dedication to "the life-giving sources, to his role as diviner through whom the water used to broadcast its secrets." Here, the female figure present throughout Heaney's poetry has grown old, and as a result "the imagery suggests difficulty, noisy effort, disease and decline." But ultimately, Andrews argues, the poem centers on the notion of faith: "Despite the poet's faithlessness, the old woman still provides a drink of water. At the end the poet has 'dipped to...

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This section contains 222 words
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Buy the A Drink of Water Study Guide
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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.