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Death Of A Naturalist Analysis



Author: poem of Seamus Heaney Type: poem Views: 47

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All year the flax-dam festered in the heart

Of the townland; green and heavy headed

Flax had rotted there, weighted down by huge sods.

Daily it sweltered in the punishing sun.

Bubbles gargled delicately, bluebottles

Wove a strong gauze of sound around the smell.

There were dragon-flies, spotted butterflies,

But best of all was the warm thick slobber

Of frogspawn that grew like clotted water

In the shade of the banks. Here, every spring

I would fill jampotfuls of the jellied

Specks to range on window-sills at home,

On shelves at school, and wait and watch until

The fattening dots burst into nimble-

Swimming tadpoles. Miss Walls would tell us how

The daddy frog was called a bullfrog

And how he croaked and how the mammy frog

Laid hundreds of little eggs and this was

Frogspawn. You could tell the weather by frogs too

For they were yellow in the sun and brown

In rain.

   Then one hot day when fields were rank

With cowdung in the grass the angry frogs

Invaded the flax-dam; I ducked through hedges

To a coarse croaking that I had not heard

Before. The air was thick with a bass chorus.

Right down the dam gross-bellied frogs were cocked

On sods; their loose necks pulsed like sails. Some hopped:

The slap and plop were obscene threats. Some sat

Poised like mud grenades, their blunt heads farting.

I sickened, turned, and ran. The great slime kings

Were gathered there for vengeance and I knew

That if I dipped my hand the spawn would clutch it.





Submitted by Andrew Mayers






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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

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lol you made a few typos. change instead of chnage

| Posted on 2013-05-12 | by a guest


.: :.

i think that this poem is very inspiring. In the first stanza,Heaney makes the poem sound all nice whereas in the second one he makes it sound bad. i enjoyed this poem lots

| Posted on 2011-04-03 | by a guest


.: :.

i think that this poem is very inspiring. In the first stanza,Heaney makes the poem sound all nice whereas in the second one he makes it sound bad. i enjoyed this poem lots

| Posted on 2011-04-03 | by a guest


.: :.

thank you for that explanation. i am doing my GCSE's and it did not make any sense before i read that. i thought that i might jsut point out that you made a small typo near the bottom; refering has only one 'f'.

| Posted on 2009-10-30 | by a guest


.: :.

Death of a Naturalist
Throughout Seamus Heaney's poem 'Death of a Naturalist' we explore the transformation of a young boy's personality and his perception of nature. The poem is split into two stanza's; the first depicting a child - like most others - fearless, innocent and evoking a seemingly undying love for the gruesome intricacies of nature. However, he develops into an inquisitive adolescent guilty for taking frogspawn in the second stanza. This change in personality conveys the central themes of the poem: growing up and loss of innocence.
Stanza one begins delineating the young boy exploring and enjoying nature, full of innocence and wonder. However, deep inside him lies the opposing guilty adolescent waiting to exploit nature for its dark and disgusting traits:
"All year the flax-dam festered in the heart
Of the townland"
This opening line is symbollic of the conflict in the boy between the pleasure of nature and the fear and uncertainty of it. The word 'festered' connotes a string sense of dirt and decay contrasting with the word 'heart' which displays the image of the rotting flax growing deep inside the boy. This represents an unhealthy guilt growing amongst the innocence of the child. This clever imagery adds to our understanding of the change the boy will undergo. Nevertheless, the first stanza is evry much a celebration of nature.
Heaney continues to reinforce the child's personality furtger on in stanza one as the young boy comes across the all important frogspawn:
"But best of all was the warm thick slobber
Of frogspawn that grew like `clotted water"
'Best of all' highlights the boy's childish excitement of the flax-dam. This is linked to the word 'slobber' which is emphasised by the use of enjambent showing the boys innocent delight at natures horrible attributes. The frogspawns growth here is symbollic of the growth occuring inside the boy, further emphasised by the juxtapostition of 'clotted' and 'water' which signifies the boy's innocence turning to guilt. This is reinforced by the consonace here of the 't' sound highlights the increase in viscosity of the boy's innocence which will turn out to be the guilty adolescent persona.
The turning point in the poem is easily recognisable as it is split into two stanza's. The first ends 'In rain' which shows after the ongoing 'punishing sun' the frogs have undergone a change insinuated by the weather. The second stanza begins with 'Then'. This signifies the point where the boy's chnage in personality and chnage in ideas takes place; from the receptive, innocent child to the inquisitive and guilty adolescent. We immediately begin to see this guilty mind take over:
"Then one hot day when fields were rank
With cowdung in the grass the angry frogs"
The use of enjambment here emphasises the word 'rank' which denotes something strong smelling or disgusting. This indicates his change in beliefs, for previously he would have seen this as a wonderful delight. This change is reinforced by the 'angry frogs': They too had developed from their 'jampotfuls of jellied specks' and were now coming for revenge for the boy stealing their spawn. In this now adolescent state he is scared and has 'ducked through hedges' in order to escape the invasion of the angry frogs.

Heaney continues to intensify the boy's changed personality as he reflects on new sights and sounds recognisable only now as an adolescent.
"To a coarse croaking that i had not heard
Before"
The enjambment used here emphasises the word 'before' creating the image of the characters lost innocence, reflecting back on how he used to see nature as a child.
The conclusion to the poem is introduced by Heamey's use of caesura; a technique which gives the effect of a pause. This helps create the new found sense of fear and uncertainty in the boy:
"I sickened, turned, and ran. The great slime kings
Were gathered there for vengeance and i knew
That if i dipped my hand the spawn would clutch it."
The intrusion of fear is reinforced by the boy reffering to frogs as 'great slime kings'. This contrasts with the previous image of the spawn being kept in jam jars. This highlights his change from fearless to fearful. The imagery in the last sentence is particularly effective when collating and comparing the boy's two different group of charactersistics: For years he would take the frogspawn unaware that it was wrong, this shows his childish desires; his receptive nature,and most importantly, his innocence. Howveer, now he feels: 'That if i dipped my hand the spawn would clutch it.' This use of personification by giving the spawn human abilities intensifies the idea of the child's inquisitive, fearful and guilty personality. Altogether signifying the loss of innocence, development of the boy's personality and the death of the young naturalist. Heaney's constant use of clever techniques in this poem provides us with a greater understanding of the these changes and makes us appreciate the depth Heaney has gone into in order to make these changes apparent.
Graeme Gilchrist

| Posted on 2009-02-17 | by a guest




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