Glob’s book The Bog People enabled Heaney to look at the violence in Northern Ireland from a different perspective. By giving a comparison between these ancient sacrificial murders and the killings and violence in Northern Ireland, Heaney could bring the issues of the day to light. Through this method he could avoid making political statements or lecturing to his readers about how he saw the situation. Heaney himself could stand aside from these volatile issues and give a broader, less tainted view of the events that were unfolding. This would enable his poetry to open people’s minds to these events, rather than force the issue onto the public. Heaney had been put under immense pressure to speak out for the Republican cause. Therefore writing these poems, The Tollund Man, The Grauballe Man and Punishment brought with it a great sense of relief and a cathartic effect. In conveying the story of the Irish conflict in such an articulate and compelling manner, Heaney was far more likely to elicit sympathy for the plight of the Irish. Just as the images of Tollund Man, Grauballe Man and Windeby Girl were able to evoke feelings of compassion from Heaney, so would his poems evoke these feelings in his readers. Heaney’s poems give a dignity to these ancient people who were sacrificed for the benefit of their society, and may help the many victims of the Irish conflict be afforded a similar stature.
Contributor to books, including The Writers: A Sense of Ireland, O'Brien Press (Dublin, Ireland), 1979; Canopy: A Work for Voice and Light in Harvard Yard, Harvard University Art Museums, 1997; Healing Power: The Epic Poise—A Celebration of Ted Hughes, edited by Nick Gammage, Faber, 1999; For the Love of Ireland: A Literary Companion for Readers and Travelers, Ballantine, 2001; 101 Poems against War, edited by Matthew Hollis and Paul Keegan, Faber, 2003; and Don't Ask Me What I Mean: Poets in Their Own Words, Picador, 2003. Contributor of poetry and essays to periodicals, including New Statesman, Listener, Guardian, Times Literary Supplement, and London Review of Books. Heaney's papers and letters are collected at Emory University, Atlanta, GA.
Tolkien argued powerfully that, for the Germanic mentality that gave birth to the myth of Ragnarök , the monsters of the poem were the only appropriate enemies for a great hero, and thus shifted Beowulf from the irrelevant fringes to the very centre of the Anglo-Saxon thought world. This naturally encouraged a pre-existent tendency to square the poem with what else was known of the 'serious' levels of Anglo-Saxon thought - chiefly the Latin scholarship of the Church. Secondly, Tolkien went far towards vindicating the structure of the poem by arguing that it was a balance of contrasting and interlocking halves. His thesis not only convinced many critics but inspired them to follow his example, with the result that Tolkien's own position has been outflanked. Whereas previous generations of scholars, Tolkien included, had been quite prepared to explain what they considered structural and stylistic blemishes as interpolations, modern writers seek evidence of artistic refinement in some of the poem's least promising features.