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Now, to pry into roots, to finger slime, To stare, big-eyed Narcissus, into some spring Is beneath all adult dignity. I rhyme To see myself, to set the darkness echoing.
Now, to pry ......... the darkness echoing.
REFERENCE (i) Poem: Personal Helicon (ii) Poet: Seamus Heaney CONTEXT (i) Occurrence: End of the Poem (Lines 17-20/20)
(ii) Content: The poet describes his childhood memories and then connects them with the present. When he was a child, people "could not keep (him) from wells", which shows that he was fascinated by them. Wells were a way for him to express his childlike desire to smell, savour, and touch nature. To satisfy his curiosity, he needed to "[drag] out long roots from the soft mulch" so that he could see his own reflection. However, having grown up, he can't spend hours looking at wells anymore, because it is "beneath all adult dignity". So he writes this poem as a way to relieve his childhood again.
In these lines the poet compares his childhood fascination of starring into wells with his adult Muse of poetry. No longer does the poet stare into wells. Now he looks upon exploring the wonders of the world. "Pry[ing] into the roots, to finger slime" is unfitting the man he has become. He considers looking into himself directly narcissistic. Having grown into an adult other matters have taken precedence. His childhood activities are now "beneath all adult dignity" and he must find alternatives. Summed up in the last, and arguably his best line we find salvation. "I rhyme to see myself, to set the darkness echoing". The echo in the darkness much like the echo in the wells, we find the act of poetry has taken the place of gazing into wells. And we find him once again being able to live. In short, Heaney believes that the poet lives in his own world unconcerned with the world around him.