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2 Poems From "Death Of A Naturalist" And Heaney's Techniques For Exploring The Theme Of Nature In His Poetry

1115 words - 5 pages

Seamus Heaney is a contemporary Irish poet. As soon as he published "Death of a Naturalist", in 1966, it was acclaimed as a great work of literature. This collection revolves around childhood, the loss of innocence and the transition from childhood to adulthood. We also have a glimpse of Heaney's distorted view of nature, his fascination and yet the hostility it radiates. In "Death of a naturalist" and "Blackberry Picking" he explores the theme of nature."Blackberry Picking" gives a vivid account of picking blackberries. But the poem is has an underlying meaning. It is really about hope and despair and how things never quite live up to our expectations and thus blackberry picking becomes a ...view middle of the document...

The assonance in "rat-grey fungus" emphasises the sense of revulsion. This turnabout seems to suggest that nature is corrupt and more particularly is being corrupted by humans, in this case him and his friends when picking blackberries. The analogy to Bluebeard emphasises the poet's feeling of guilt in regards to this corruption. The juice of the berries stains the poet's hands and never washes away accentuating his feeling of guilt.The whole poem seems to suggest that the natural world cannot be mastered by humanity, it is wild and independent. As soon as there is human interference nature becomes corrupt. The berries began to rot soon after being picked.The poem "Death of a naturalist" is similar to the "Blackberry Picking" in both theme and structure. Heaney explains a change in his attitude after a frightful experience. The poem here too has two distinct sections. Just as in "Blackberry Picking", the two sections correspond to two different stages in the poet's thoughts and to two different portrayals of nature. In the first stanza the poet describes the setting quite generally and his activity in regards to nature: how he would catch frogspawns for his collection. We find out that the poet is fascinated by nature and is proud of his find as shown by the line,"Specks to range on window-sills at home,On shelves at school". As in "Blackberry Picking", there are elements in the first stanza that foreshadow the unpleasant turn that nature will take in the second stanza. While the overall setting is positive with the "bubbles gargled delicately, bluebottlesWove a strong gauze of sound around the smell", sinister elements do seep through. The flax dam is a boggy and swamp like area that is "festered", where "flax had rotted" and was daily "sweltered in the punishing sun". In the middle of a "townland", a civilised community, there is a piece of wild untamed and uncontrollable area rotting away.The second stanza focuses in one particular event announced by "then one day". Heaney records how one day he...

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