An Advancement of Learning

The poem was written in early 1963 and first published in The Irish Times. It portrays an instinctively timid person poised to make a stand against the nature he was born with. The defeated child of ‘Death of a Naturalist’  (and the over-imaginitive youngster of ‘The Barn’ will grow in courage and see himnself a little more clearly. The poem’s title is borrowed from English philosopher Francis Bacon’s book The Proficience and Advancement of Learning (1605). Heaney prefers the indefinite article to specify an incident instrumental in his own personal development. The speaker sets out along the river. His aside confirms the habitual choice of route (As always, deferring/ The bridge). As he stands Hunched over the railing, his initial […]