2 poems from "Death of a Naturalist" and Heaney's techniques for exploring the theme of nature in his poetry.

Essay by MathildeCollege, UndergraduateA+, January 2006

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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 metaphor for other experiences.

The poem is separated into two distinct sections. The first stanza depicts the picking, from appearance of the first fruit to the frenzy of activity as the fruit ripens, and the enjoyment he gets from this.

All the senses are awakened as there is a lot of texture such as a

"glossy purple clot" and colours, "red, green". The tasting of the blackberry is presented as a sensual pleasure when he refers to sweet "flesh", "summer's blood" and "lust". The enthusiasm of the collectors is suggested by the line:

"Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam pots." There are also references to blood, "clot", "summer's blood", big dark blobs burned like a plate of eyes", foreshadowing the unpleasant turn in the second stanza. The poet's hands were "sticky as Bluebeard's" (whose hands were covered with the blood of his wives).

The second stanza concerns the attempt to preserve the berries and its failure. While in the first stanza we had a positive view of nature, the second stanza brings us back to reality: that all good...