Seamus Heaney's Blackberry-Picking and Death of a Naturalist Essay

1335 Words 6 Pages
Seamus Heaney's Blackberry-Picking and Death of a Naturalist

Blackberry Picking gives a lucid description of basically, picking blackberries. However it is really about hope and disappointment and how things never quite live up to expectations. ‘Blackberry picking’ becomes a metaphor for other experiences such as the lack of optimism already being realised at an early age and the sense of naivety looked upon from an adult analysing his childhood; “Each year I hoped they’d keep, knew they would not”, consequently a sense of regret. Death of A Naturalist is similar to Blackberry Picking in its subject and structure. Here, too Heaney explains a change in his attitude to the natural world, in a
…show more content…
The tripling used suggests the lexis is one of confusion and passion; “Sent us out with milk-cans, pea-tins, jam-pots”. Likewise to Blackberry Picking, Death of A Naturalist also has a fairly simple structure. In the first section, Heaney describes how the frogs would spawn in the lint hole, with a digression into him collecting the spawn, and how his teacher encouraged his childish interest in the process. The poem’s title is amusingly ironic – by a ‘naturalist’, we would normally mean someone with expert scientific knowledge of living things and ecology. The young Heaney certainly was beginning to know nature from direct observation – but this incident cut short the possible scientific career before it had ever begun. Also by ‘death of a naturalist’ he does not wish to be a part of this life. The poet notes the festering in the flax-dam, but can cope with this familiar lexis of things rotting and spawn hatching. Perhaps, as an inquisitive child he felt some pride in not being squeamish – he thinks of the bubbles form the process as gargling ‘delicately’. There is a nostalgic feeling as he continues to take his childhood for granted. He has an almost scientific interest in knowing the proper names “bullfrog” and “frogspawn” rather than the teacher’s patronizing talk of “mummy” and “daddy”, this development is
Open Document