16 pages 32 minutes read

Seamus Heaney

Two Lorries

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 1996

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Poem Analysis

Analysis: “Two Lorries”

The title of the poem, “Two Lorries,” indicates that the work is going to be a study in parallel and contrast. The first stanza is important in this sestina form because, line by line, it establishes the six repeating words that will form the core ideas of this piece: “ashes” (Line 1), “lorry” (Line 2), “coalman” (Line 3), “mother” (Line 4), Magherafelt (Line 5), and “load” (Line 6). The opening is rooted in down-to-earth realism, using sharp imagery to bring it to life. The “rain… on black coal” (Line 1) and the “tyre-marks in the yard” (Lines 2) immerse the reader in a photographic memory. There is a sense of innocence here too, not just in the speaker of the poem but in the world around him: “Would she ever go to a film in Magherafelt?” (Line 5) is such a simple question, yet so distinctive of a time before the fear and pain that the coming political turmoil would bring.

The boy loses interest in the conversation and turns his attention to the coal, viewing it in juxtaposition: “Silk-black” (Line 8) and “silkiest white” (Lines 9). In this instance, though they work in contrast, they both represent something positive—the quality of the coal the man brought them.