An appreciation of Death of a Naturalist

Essay by asman0126Junior High, 8th gradeA+, March 2004

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?Death of a naturalist? is a poem about growing up and loss of innocence. The poem is organised into two sections, which follows the boy through childhood. The boy becomes a reflective Adult, from an unquestioning boy. It seems Seamus Heaney is concerned with the progression from innocence to experience. This is shown in the first paragraph when he talks like a child: ?Miss Walls would tell us how.? This shows the fact that the child is in education. Another section emphasizes this by repeating ?and? three times:

?And how he croaked and how the mammy frog

Laid hundreds of little eggs and ? LINE 17

The significance of this is that it shows how he is excited and fascinated by the subject of frogspawn. This is the natural speaking voice of a young child

Images of decay, ?festered?, ?rotten?, ?sweltered? and ?the punishing sun? do not seem to trouble the boy in the poem in the first stanza but then his naivety goes and then he becomes more defensive.

The onomatopoeic word ?slobber? shows the boy?s feelings of wanting to know more about the world around him. ?Clotted? and ?jellied? shows that the boy liked to touch and feel the frogspawn and that he enjoyed it.

Then when section two comes, the tone of the poem changes, in terms of imagery, movement, sound and touch. The world is now a threatening place to be in, full of ugliness. But it?s not the world which changed but the boy?s views which were innocence have now changed. There is still the emphasis on the ?dirty words?, but the sounds are not balanced and delicate:




?Gargled delicately? (an oxymoron)

This, ?slap? and ?plop? slow the poem down and the full stop gives emphasis to the threat. What was...