Storm on the Island by Seamus Heaney – study session 1 of 2

Today we will…

  • Read the poem ‘Storm on the Island’
  • Learn about the poet, Seamus Heaney
  • Learn about how Seamus Heaney writes about the power of nature

Download a copy of the poem, print it (if you can) and read it.

You can download the poem from the button below ▼

You will also need a pen and paper or your exercise book to write in

By the end of this study session you will…

  • Know something about the life of the poet Seamus Heaney and how this is important in the poem
  • Understand how power of nature is shown in the poem (the second study session on Storm on the Island will look at conflict in the poem)

To get started…
Look at the images below and write down words and phrases that describe the natural environment suggested in each image. This will help you to get a picture of the sort of place where the poem is set.
You can write a list of words and phrases or, for more challenge, write a short paragraph to describe the natural environment in one of the images

Some information about the poet Seamus Heaney:
► Seamus Heaney was born in 1939 and died in 2013.
►Seamus Heaney lived in Northern Ireland
►He lived through a period of history in Northern Ireland know and ‘the troubles’. There was a lot of unrest, and sectarian violence between Catholics and Protestants and acts of terrorism. ‘The troubles’ and his response to this are reflected in his poetry.
►He lived on a farm and had a very rural upbringing. His upbringing in they countryside and nature and environment are important in Seamus Heaney’s poetry
►Storm on the Island is a poem from a very famous collection of poems by Seamus Heaney called, Death of a Naturalist. The poem is 1 of 3 poems set on the Arun Islands (remote islands off the coast of Northern Ireland)

Read this information because it is useful context for the poem. It helps us to understand why Seamus Heaney wrote about the power of nature and the conflict in Northern Ireland.


Read the poem
Decide if the statements below about the poem are true or false. Click on each to find out if you are right.

This will help to understand what happens and what is described in the poem.

The poem describes the experience of being in a small cliff top cottage on and island off the coast of Ireland, during a storm


The environment has lush vegetation and trees


The people in the cottage are isolated


The people in the cottage are powerless against the weather


The narrator in the poem is alone


The sea and the wind are very powerful


Your main task…

Download and complete the worksheet ▼

✎This task will take about half and hour and you will need a pen and paper / exercise book to write your answers.

How do you know what you know?

Think about the poem as a whole:

✎Which of the following statements do you think best describe this poem?  Why?

  • A good advertisement for a holiday brochure
  •  A vivid re-creation of a storm
  •  Reflections on how storms affect people
  •  Human beings can adapt to nature’s violence
  •  Man cannot combat the power of nature