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Word Count: 594
Limbo Seamus Heaney Fishermen at Ballyshannon Netted an infant last night Along with the salmon An illegitimate spawning A small one thrown back To the waters But Im sure As she stood in the shallows Ducking him tenderly Till the frozen knobs of her wrists Were dead as the gravel He was a minnow with hooks Tearing her open She waded in under The sign of the cross He was hauled in with the fish Now limbo will be A cold glitter of souls Through some far briny zone Even Christs palms unhealed Smart and cannot fish there The poem deals with the religious and sexual suppression caused by a rather dogmatic Catholic Church The Catholic Church is intolerant towards abortion Its belief in the value of female virginity before marriage has resulted in girls killing their new born infants The greater part of these girls are said to be unmarried at the time Killing new born infants is in conflict with the Christian belief because love and forgiveness are of the utmost importance here Killing is no such form of love and compassion The title Limbo refers to the Catholic doctrine of limbo being a place where unbaptised children go This is not to be compared with Heaven nor Hell The existence of such a place seems unfair as the infants have done no wrong whatsoever They are the quintessence of the human souls Seamus Heaney says Even Christs palm unhealedSmart and cannot fish here He questions the existence of Limbo How can Christ himself not reach this place If its neither good nor wrong is it a actual place Limbo recalls a specific incident in Ballyshannon where a dead infant is hauled in by fishermen All throughout the poem fishing is mentioned The dead infant is called a minnow A small one thrown away Christ is also known as fisher of men
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