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Seamus Heaney Portrayal of Natural World

Uploaded by xsparklyvix on Sep 06, 2005

Referring to ‘Blackberry Picking’ and ‘Death of a Naturalist’,
Discuss Heaney’s portrayal of the natural world and his relationship to it

Heaney uses the natural world and his relationship with it in order to express how as a result of age his views on the natural world have changed. Initially, Heaney was positive and hopeful regarding the world around him ‘Best of all’. Through knowledge, teaching and education this judgement has been clouded leaving him to see the world as disappointing and threatening, ‘I sickened’. Heaney is able to articulate this changing of voice through the use of 2 separate stanzas, diction, imagery and differences in sound throughout both ‘Blackberry Picking’ and ‘Death of a Naturalist’.
The poem ‘Death of a Naturalist’ describes vividly a childhood experience of a young boy who finds great excitement in ‘the warm thick slobber of frogspawn that grew like clotted water in the shade of the banks’. However, a change occurs within the boy due to seeing the frogs ‘one hot day’ in a state which ‘sickened’ him. Having seen the once ‘nimble’ frogs acting ‘poised like mud grenades, their blunt heads farting’ he is physically repulsed by their attitude. This reflects how through education, ‘Miss Walls would tell us’, Heaney has altered from being innocently wondering to being appalled. Heaney uses this incident to show how as an adult, he is surprised by his childhood naivety which he patronises in the language ‘mammy frog’.
In ‘Blackberry Picking’ Heaney uses the childhood tradition of picking blackberries as a metaphor to express his adult view on how naively hopeful he was as a child. Heaney uses lavish description in order to create the ‘lust for picking’. By juxtaposing this with his negative view ‘lovely canfuls smelt of rot’ he heightens the impact of his condescending adult perspective of how things never live up to our expectations. Heaney uses the poem as a metaphor to explain that even as an adult that a recurring delusion, where there is a perpetual consciousness that life, love and youth do not ‘keep’ but the temptation for another try is always succumbed to.
In both poems Heaney uses titles which are ironic in regard to his feelings to the poem. By a ‘Naturalist’ one would normally mean someone with expert scientific knowledge of living ecology, for example David Attenborough. As a naïve child Heaney was beginning to understand nature from observation...

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Uploaded by:   xsparklyvix

Date:   09/06/2005

Category:   Poetry

Length:   5 pages (1,233 words)

Views:   9793

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