115th Annual Conference - Honolulu, Hawaii
Friday, November 10 - Sunday, November 12, 2017

Domestic Space and the Architecture of the Bedroom in Seamus Heaney’s Poetry

Daniel Benyousky, Baylor University

In my paper, I will consider the prominence of architecture and space in Seamus Heaney's poetry, both of which expand his way of seeing the world. In particular, I will focus on the bed, considering how this object constructs the architecture of the bedroom and develops domestic space in his poetry. For Heaney, the bed transforms a room into a place of rest and intimacy, it connects past with present through beds that are willed and inherited within his family, and it offers Heaney the space to interact with poetic predecessors like Homer. 

Proposal: 

Scholarship on Irish poet Seamus Heaney’s work has long emphasized the importance of place in his verse. This is apparent, for instance, through his use of Irish bog land to help him make sense of the complex and violent history of his country that was made manifest in his lifetime during The Troubles. With the significance of place in mind, I will consider in my paper the prominence of architecture and space in Heaney's poetry, both of which expand his way of seeing the world. In particular, I will focus on the bed, considering how this object constructs the architecture of the bedroom and develops domestic space in his poetry. For Heaney, the bed transforms the way he sees the space around him in many ways. It turns a room into a place of rest and intimacy, it connects past with present through beds that are willed and inherited within his family, and it offers Heaney the space to interact with poetic predecessors like Homer. My paper will consider the poet’s use of architecture and space in the poems “The Settle Bed,” “Lustral Sonnet,” and “Bedside Reading.” Moreover, I will scaffold my paper with scholarship on space with critics like Gaston Bachelard and his landmark work The Poetics of Space.

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