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Death of a Naturalist

  • Date Submitted: 03/20/2010 10:54 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 56.5 
  • Words: 812
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Death of a Naturalist

All through Seamus Heaney’s poem “Death of a Naturalist” we discover the transformation of a young boy’s personality and his observation of nature. The poem is divided into two stanzas, the first portraying a child, like most others – fearless innocent and evoking a seemingly indestructible love for the gruesome confusion of nature. However, he develops into a searching adolescent guilt for taking the frogspawn in the second stanza. This change in personality conveys the central themes of the poem; growing up and loss of childhood innocence.
Stanza one begins with the young boy exploring and enjoying nature, full of innocence and wonder.
                            “All year the flax-dam festered in the heart
                              Of the town land”
The opening line combines assonance and alliteration and begins to create the atmosphere of decay. ”festered “gives a sense of dirt and decay which contrasts the word “heart” which displays the image of rotting flax growing deep inside the boy. This shows an unwanted guilt growing amongst the innocence of the child. Moreover, the first stanza is very much a celebration of nature. Heaney continues to reinforce the child’s personality further as the young boy comas across 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 enjambment showing the boys innocent delight at natures horrible attributes. The frogspawns growth here is significant of the growth which is occurring within the boy, further emphasised by the juxtaposition of “clotted” and “water” which shows the boy’s innocence turning to guilt. The poem then switches to an account of how when Heaney collected frog spawn every spring, filling “jampots of the jellied...


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