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'Death Of A Naturalist'
I am going to be focusing on one of the most compelling poems in this book of Irish poems which is Death of A Naturalist. This is one of the most, I think, best ideas for a poem as it contains both side of an arguement, a very hard thing to do in a poem. I think Irish poems don't get a lot of credit from modern day reviewers. It has kind of been 'swept under the mat' which I think is extremely wrong. At the opening of the first paragraph, the writer makes it clear that he, as a young boy, enjoyed wildlife. He tells of the times when he used to go down to the flax - dam and look at the different creatures. He tells us that he used to ask his teacher what these creatures done and how they acted, conveying that he is very innocent and gullible. However, the second stanza describes how he now despises the creatures and has a very negative approach towards them. He sees them as enemies and he makes this quite clear by use of strong language such as: 'vengeance'. These two poems reflect on two different times in the writers life when he had two different approaches to life and nature. The writer exploits the fact that in the first half, the child is very cheerful and innocent and he backs this up by the use of long sentences to show the anticipation in the child. He reflects back on these times as some of the best days of his life. The use of 'primary school' words however, just emphasises the immaturity of him as a child and how he hasn't fully grown up yet. However, when it gets to the second stanza, the writer immediately shows his negativity towards nature by saying: 'when fields were rank'. He continues to show anger and revulsion towards the frogs in particular by implying that they are out to get him: 'some sat poisoned like mud grenades'. He also expresses his maturity and how he has grown to hate these creatures. 'Death Of A Naturalist' is a very strong title for a number of reasons. It shows how the writer's enthusiasm towards nature has died over the course of his life. The use of the word 'Death' conveys this in a very strong manner. It is not a death of a person as such, but a 'death' of a passion. In the first stanza, the time period is described as 'every spring' or 'all year'. This shows a very general period and not very stuck on one specific time. However, in the second stanza, this is the case. The writer focuses on one time when he experienced terror and it was 'stuck' on that specific time. The use of similies throughout the poem either positively or negatively describe nature and all have a different 'role' to play: 'Grew like clotted water' positively portrays the water as delicate to the touch and the use of the word 'clotted' makes reference to clotted cream. This word is used as the poet, as a child, obviously liked clotted cream and he wants to 'rub this off' onto his poem. However, similies in the second stanza paint a different picture: 'poisoned like mud grenades' shows the frog's shape and how the poet finds them threatening and could attack at any time, almost like a live grenade. He does this to emphasise the severity of the thoughts going through the poet's mind. This also portrays their colour as a khaki green and also shows the type of weather as the writer as already mentioned in the first paragraph: 'they were yellow in the sun and brown in the rain'. Words such as 'croaked' and 'gargled' add sound to the poem and tells us of the sounds without us actually hearing anything: 'slap' and 'plop' show an immediacy in the poem and makes you feel as if you are there, hearing the sounds. These are used to show that the writer remembers these bold sounds and it also adds effects to the feel of the poem. This makes it less formal and allows you to read it with ease. In this poem, the senses are described in great detail. The fact that the poet has remembered most of the things he smelled and even touched shows that this was a turning point in his life and that he will remember it forever: 'Bubbles gargled delicately' tells us that this wasn't a phrase he would have used as a child and this is a mature statement to make: 'Wove a strong gauze of sound around the smell'. This, again, shows the mature side of the poet and , cleverly, links other things to sounds and smells around him. In the second stanza, the writer focuses more on the immediate actions as it portrays fear and anger in the character. He targets not the sounds and smells around him, but focuses more on the fear of the frogs. In the first stanza, he shows that it is not only the child speaking but also influences of the poet: 'Bubbles gargled delicately.' These are not the words of a young boy but more so the words of an experienced adult. However, some from the first passage contradict this: 'daddy' and 'mummy' both show the immature side of the poet and how he extracts words from his childhood to emphasise the feel of the first stanza. Throughout the second stanza, the poet makes several references to war. This conveys just how terrified the writer was of the frogs: 'invaded' makes the reader think that the frogs are enemies and want to actually kill. He makes us think of a war scene when it is merely just the writer running from his fear. This dramatizes the whole situation, a technique which is frequently used throughout the poem. The writer makes the second half of the poem out to be a horrible nightmare, like the kind you would have as a child. Whilst the first half contains mature language, the second stanza is the complete opposite making references to comic books and other childlike activities: 'the great slime kings' tells of an enemy in a cartoon or maybe in a comic. As the writer is frightened, he is babbling on about anything he can think of that will portray these creatures in the worst light. Firstly, the child's overactive imagination runs away with him and he starts babbling on. This shows excitement and impatience in the child and conveys that he is interested in the frogspawn. However, the second stanza shows signs of fear in the character by the use of short, crammed in sentences, and the use of commas throughout the second half of the poem, shows that the writer wants to think about each action before he does it. In conclusion, I believe there are a lot of contradictions between the childhood world and the adult world. Firstly, I think that a child growing up has very little knowledge of the real world and they make up and exaggerate things to amuse themselves. As we get older though, we get wiser about the outside world and learn how or how not to act. Adults, I think feel more emotion compared to children who don't really know how to act in certain situations. I think the best days of your life are the exaggerated, care free days of your childhood. This is one of two I have read in this book, and already, I'm becoming more and more interested in Irish culture and what techniques they use to create these brilliant stories.
I hope you enjoyed reading my review and please don't hesitate to criticise. Thanks
Good review - although clearer seperation of paragraphs would be easier on the eye :)
battiest 12.10.2007 00:07
You've obviously spent a lot of time writing your review but, to be honest, I think it lacks structure and I found it quite hard to follow. (I'm not familiar with the poem, which doesn't help). It's important that you find your own style of writing, and of course, it's up to you how you structure your reviews, but I would suggest that focussing on one stanza at a time might make your writing easier to understand; you can then maybe do a couple of paragraphs directly comparing the two viewpoints, that of the child and that of the man. I hope I don't sound too critical, please let me know if you decide to edit your review and I'll gladly take another look. Cate
6chris6 11.10.2007 23:14
Iím sorry but I found this hard to read and digest, you used the sentence í This makes it less formal and allows you to read it with easeí. This for me at least wasnít the case with your review. I donít want to criticise to much because one thing I did get out of it is itís meaning to you. The first thing I would recommend is breaking it up into readable paragraphs as it is easy to get lost. Secondly I would if possible try to make it easier for the layman to read, someone who may not know too much about poetry and may not of heard as I havenít of Seamus Heaney, this as it is wouldnít have me going out to look for this and I like poetry. It reads quite heavy so I would try to lighten it up, even though the book itís self may not be that light, you are in essence trying to convince someone this is for them. The reason I went for helpful is because if someone has heard of Seamus then this might mean something to them but Iím afraid it didnít really to me. Keep going though and feel free to ignore everything Iíve written hereÖ