A Naturalist by Seamus Heaney - Sample Essay
English Assignment a Crossover assignment title: With close reference to at least two poems examine how the poets you have studied explore the theme of childhood innocence. In your answer you should consider the following: i?? the similarities and differences in the poets’ approaches and effectiveness of their methods i?? the use of language and imagery i?? your personal response The two poems I have chosen to study are “The Evacuee” by RS Thomas and “Death of a Naturalist” by Seamus Heaney.
Although these two poets choose to explore the theme of childhood innocence, RS Thomas conveys a process of healing and compensation for childhood innocence through the calming effect of the countryside and the effect of human compassion. In this poem RS Thomas uses three stanzas to show the development phases in the life of the girl in his poem “The evacuee. ” RS Thomas conveys to the reader the life of a girl who has been evacuated to the country side.
His poem deals with a young girl who was evacuated from the town to the welsh hills to prevent her being harmed in the bombings and how she was damaged by what she had experienced and seen. It begins with the girl waking up in a beautiful natural room in the countryside: “… The bedroom with its frieze of fresh sunlight… ” Through this description, we already know that she is in a beautiful and safe area. This idea is once again confirmed in the second stanza, when RS Thomas uses the metaphor of “The sounds and voices were a rough sheet
Waiting to catch her, as though she leaped From a scorched storey of the charred past” This shows the farmers acceptance of her into their lives and the hospitality they extend to her. This metaphor creates an image of a fire-fighter waiting below a burning building ready to catch her as she falls, her falling is representative of the traumatic memories of her past life in the city being blanked out, this also suggests that the farmers are there to treat, reassure and care for her as she starts her new life in the country.
Another way that RS Thomas shows that the girl is safe now is through his careful use of language to describe how the family invite the girl into the kitchen and as the make a place for her at the table it is representative of them making a place for her in their lives. He makes sure to use the verb “beckoned” as it is a very gentle verb, it show the kind and gentle nature of the people with whom she is now living with. RS Thomas shows us how the peace and serenity of the countryside and the family the girl now lives with help restore her childhood innocence, in the third and final stanza when he writes: “Home now after so long away.
In the flowerless streets of the drab town” He is telling us this girl has now surpassed her previous hesitations to this new environment, as it says “Home Now, “which is a Paradox as her real home is in the city. However he uses this to convey to the reader that the girl finally feels at home in the country and that the mental scars of her past are starting to heal. This use of different verses to deal with various issues and events is similar to how Seamus Heaney uses two stanzas to show the contrasting attitudes of the boy as the poem progresses.
This poem shows the reader how Heaney, as a child, was fascinated by nature and how seeing the frogs mating ruins that for him and his childish innocence is shattered. Heaney decided to use nature to convey the loss of the child’s innocence, the title makes this clear, “Death a naturalist”. This is an example of Heaney’s humour, because this experience of seeing the frogs mate now seems bland compared to the horror it caused him as a child as he now understands what they were doing and that they were not there to hurt him.
Heaney structures this poem very cleverly He uses two stanzas in almost the same way Thomas structured his poem. In addition to dealing with childhood innocence, this is probably the only two similarities in the two poems as Heaney illustrates the irreversible loss of innocence of the boy, while Thomas writes about how the landscape and the interaction of people may to some extent, restore the innocence of childhood.
By using two opposing stanzas, the first showing the boy’s fascination with nature, and in order to convey this to the reader Heaney uses very sensual language for example: “The warm thick slobber, Of frogspawn that grew like clotted water” The reader’s can relate to this as it appeals to their sense of touch and creates a sense of wonder and awe that the boy experienced. Another example of how the boy is very interested in nature is conveyed in the idiom: “Miss Walls would tell us how.
The daddy frog was called a bullfrog and how he croaked and how the mammy frog laid hundreds of little eggs and this was Frogspawn. ” This creates an image of the child explaining what they learned in school with excitement, without interruption, and is also conveyed through Heaney’s use of run-on lines. A very good example of the boy’s interest in nature and its beauty is shown through Heaney using language that appeals to the senses , and the use of onomatopoeia: “Bubbles gargled delicately …
” This is another example of Heaney using sensuous language as it appeals to our sense of hearing “…. Gargled… “. The use of “delicately” gives the impression that all is quiet and peaceful around the dam. The second verse is very different from the nature of the feelings of boys in the entire first verse. Heaney uses a number of puns and wordplay to create the impression that the frogs now seem threatening to the boy, and he often uses phrases which play on words about. “… When fields were rank with cow dung … ”
Not only does Heaney use “rank” to describe the putrid smell of the “cow dung”, but he also compares it to the rank of a soldier. Heaney uses implicit puns referring to military terms, for example. “Poised like mud grenades, their blunt heads farting. ” This use of “farting” shocks the reader but Heaney’s intention is to convey the horrible sight of the frogs mating, he tries to make the frogs seem as grotesque as possible, and through describing the frogs as “grenades” gives the impression that the frogs are ready to strike.
And finally, the child flees: “I sickened, turned, and ran,” This shows that the image of the mating frogs and the boy’s misinterpretation of their actions destroy his childish innocence. To conclude I prefer Seamus Heaney’s poem, “Death Of a Naturalist” as it is written with a sense of irony, loss of the Childs innocence is inevitable yet Heaney writes about this experience with a sense of reluctance , however once our eyes have been opened to such an experience we can’t block it out completely. ??