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  • Level: GCSE
  • Subject: English
  • Document length: 1455 words

“Many of Heaney’s poems deal with the Loss of Innocence and the Getting of Wisdom” :- Discuss\Illustrate

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Introduction

DEATH OF A NATURALIST : SEAMUS HEANEY "Many of Heaney's poems deal with the Loss of Innocence and the Getting of Wisdom" :- Discuss\Illustrate The collection is an autobiography illustrating lessons Heaney has learnt during his life. The collection begins with poems written in the eyes of a child, and as we progress through the poems, the protagonist seems be getting older and perhaps wiser. The childhood innocence present early on in the collection seems to fade away during his life's experiences, which show him the inevitability of death and decay, the bad nature of certain humans, and the fact that fear is one of man's greatest opponents. These realisations of Heaney's are gradual and start off by being less serious. The poem Death of a Naturalist shows a newly found fear of Heaney's. His childish paranoia leads him to believe "the great slime kings Were gathered there for vengeance", due to him consistently stealing frogspawn. The ugly, menacing look of the frogs, "loose necks pulsed like snails", cause Heaney to run away scared because of a childish assumption that if he tries taking any eggs"the spawn may clutch it". The Barn follows up with further examination of fear. Heaney does not however seem to know exactly what his fear is, but he "lay face-down to shun the fear above" His childish curiousness probably attracted his to this barn more than once ("and into nights")

Middle

Heaney's experiences get more serious as the collection moves on, and the subject of decay goes from blackberries to animals. The Early Purges show a young Heaney exposed to the murder of cats and other animals. He is clearly shaken by these events "suddenly frightened", and deep inside he dislikes the actions taken against them. However, Heaney was at an age where curiosity was a big part of him and the gaining of wisdom was sought after. Therefore he tries to take up Dan Taggart's thinking, and condones the violence. "Living displaces false sentiments" are wise words from a young Heaney. However, he doesn't have enough knowledge to be too confident with his ideas. He makes a comparison between the slaughter of these animals with the killing of pests on farms, and uses it to condone the violence on the animals. His continued living however, would probably prove to displace this false idea that the two events are comparable. Mid-Term Break deals with the serious issue of the death of Heaney's brother. The poem is interesting as it doesn't actually reflect on Heaney's feelings at the time. Maybe this is because Heaney wishes not to discuss the matter, but it could just probably be that his innocent age at the time of the incident disabled him from realising the seriousness of the issue.

Conclusion

Love is another issue with which Heaney can be seen to have more educated views on as the collection progresses. Love is not really expressed that much at the start of the collection, lust is focused on instead. Eg. "lust for picking" in Blackberry Picking. However, with age, comes maturity, and childish superficialities generally disappear, or at least continue at a much lower scale. Heaney doesn't write about any instances of puppy love or love a a youngster, but we know that he did have them. It tells us so in Twice Shy, "Our juvenilia Had taught us both to wait, Not to publish feeling And regret it all too late" This shows us that Heaney has learnt through experience that jumping on instinct tends to lead to disaster, and it is best to let love take its course. "Mushroom loves already Had puffed and burst in hate." However, puppy love is still evident in the case described in the poem, as we hear about "nervous childish talk". The poem shows that Heaney does realise that Love can bring pain, but his feelings bring out the child in him, and perhaps he will act on instinct if the opportunity arised. Valediction illustrates turmoil felt as a cause of losing a loved one. Love bringing pain is now evident yet again. "Self is mutiny" , it's clear he needs her to feel good again. He is dependant on her for life to go smooth, "absence Rocked love's balance".

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