Death of a Naturalist: a Study of Seamus Heaney's First Book of Poems.

1503 Words Mar 30th, 2005 7 Pages
Death of a Naturalist: A study of Seamus Heaney's first book of poems.

Seamus Heaney, the famed Irish poet, was the product of two completely different social and psychological orders. Living on "a small farm of some fifty acres in County Derry in Northern Ireland" (Nobel eMuseum), Seamus Heaney's childhood was spent primarily in the company of nature and the local wildlife. His father, a man by the name of Patrick Heaney, had a penchant for farming and working the land. Seamus' mother Margaret, in contrast, was a woman born into a family called McCann, who's major dealings were with business dealings, trade and "the modern world" (Nobel eMuseum). Patrick Heaney was a man of few words, and preferred the quiet life of a farmer to the
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Heaney's descriptive mention to the reaction of the flock, leads the reader to realize even further how Patrick and Margaret Heaney had influenced Seamus as a man, and as a writer. Upon hearing Saint Francis' love-inspired declarations, the birds "listened, fluttered, throttled up / Into the blue like a flock of words / Released for fun from his holy lips." (Heaney 42), allowing the reader to imagine that birds, much like people, are moved by words of love. The simile used to describe the birds as being "like a flock of words" stresses Heaney's mixture of his mother and father's traits even further, clearly demonstrating to the reader the combination of nature and humanity that is emphasized throughout Death of a Naturalist.
Growing up in rural Ireland, Seamus Heaney saw his fair share of death. Having spent much of his younger years living amongst animals both domestic and untamed, for Heaney death was a natural part of life. As the poet asserts in his poem Early Purges, "Prevention of cruelty talk cuts ice in town / Where they consider death unnatural, / But on well-run farms pests have to be kept down." (Heaney 13). Although the death of farm animals and local pests was commonplace around his home, it was also something that he thought about a great deal. As the title of the book suggests, death is a central theme in Heaney's first book of
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