Friday, March 28, 2014

Analysis of "Anything Can Happen" by Seamus Heaney

Original poem reprinted online here:  "Anything Can Happen" by Seamus Heaney
Originally read: September 5, 2013
More information about the Poet:  Seamus Heaney


The poem starts off innocuous enough with the opening line "Anything can happen."  The tone comes in as very colloquial, especially with the next line, "You know how Jupiter / Will mostly wait for clouds to gather head / Before he hurls lightning?"  And then the conversation turns to allusion.  Nothing against Roman deities, but this is now the tone of someone trying to talk to the reader on another level -- high metaphor -- but for what purpose?

"Well, just now / He galloped his thunder cart and his horses / Across a clear blue sky."  From here the speaker's observations become more prevalent and it's less of a colloquial conversational tone, and more of a "please believe me" kind of begging the reader tone.

And so the description continues, "It shook the earth / And the clogged underearth, the River Styx."  Note that even though this is in the past tense, the poem seems like these events just happened with the previous lines of "just now."  "The winding streams, the Atlantic shore itself."  Now we are moving across the Atlantic.

Across the Atlantic, the lines turn more towards a familiar allusion that past me didn't pick up before, "Anything can happen, the tallest towers / Be overturned, those in high places daunted, / Those overlooked regarded."  Argument wise, the "tallest towers" could refer to 9/11 and the fall of the twin towers.  And what this poem does is allude to the tragedy and allude to a mythos that directs the concerns to the idea that "anything can happen" rather than make a spectacle of the the "tallest towers" event.  This could be an allusion to that.  Regardless though the poem continues and switches allusions.

"Stooped-beak Fortune / Swoops, making the air gasp, tearing the crest off one, / Setting it down bleeding on the next."  So this line refers to the towers, but note the ambiguous pronoun that refers to "one" so the focus is on "Fortune" and the verbs in this part -- a Prometheus allusion.  How does this allusion serve the poem?  I'm not too sure.  The mythos is there, but this could infer a reasoning -- continuous pain to better improve humanity,  Maybe.

"Ground gives." This goes back to the second stanza as Zeus passes by and clogged the underearth, "The heaven's weight / Lifts up off Atlas like a kettle lid."  A burden, at least, is lifted from someone, when the gods in heaven don't seem to care about what happens on earth.

"Capstones shift, nothing resettles right / Telluric ash and fire spores boil away." A happy end.  No.  Here there are burdens lifted from the mythos, but what happens on earth is a constant change, "anything can happen."  And the speaker is trying to relate that to mythical terms that further distances the reader in trying to relate on a personal level, but brings in the reader to try to understand how everything fits...well poorly.

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