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Compare and Contrast the loss of childood innocence "Death of a Naturalist" and "The Early Purges" by Seamus Heaney

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Compare and contrast the way Heaney presents the loss of childhood innocence in "Death of a Naturalist" and "The Early Purges" By Emily Ashford In the course of this essay I want to contrast and compare two poems by the Irish poet Seamus Heaney. His anthology "Death of a Naturalist" was written in reflection of childhood and the loss of innocence possibly based on his own experiences. This anthology has received much praise and recognition over the past few decades. Seamus was brought up in the deep hearted countryside of Ireland. He grew up alongside nature and alongside 8 other children, although he was the oldest and maybe understood some things before the other children; such as death and the "facts of life." In the poems "Death of a Naturalist" he learns the true realities of nature, and how the frogspawn and frogs come to be there. In "The Early Purges" he learns not to be sympathetic toward cute and fluffy but ultimately resource draining animals. Both settings are rural rather than urban however, the each poem focuses on different areas of the countryside; "Death of a Naturalist" is based around where "all the year flax-dam" grows. ...read more.


"The Early Purges" has seven stanzas and his perspective changes from the fifth stanza. The first five stanzas describe death in an almost "sickening" way; it sickens the reader but keeps them enthralled. All the dead animals are listed so beneath the surface so we are subconsciously warned that there is a reason for this vindictiveness. When he realizes that some animals do have to be "purge[d]," he uses the term "bloody pups." This could be taken metaphorically and literally, either "bloody" because they really are bloody and dead or as he now understands that pups are an inconvenience and he shouldn't become "sentiment[al]" towards them because he has no need for them. The ending of each poem has a considerable affect on the reader. Throughout "The Early Purges" we become ignorant urban folk who are al for the "prevention of cruelty," because we have little experience of death ourselves and how important keeping "pests down" actually is in rural life. This is precisely the affect the poem intended to have. As each animal is killed we find ourselves increasingly against the regulation of small animals. Subsequently when we are informed of how useless these animals are we feel criticized as "townies" and almost na�ve and innocent of the harsh realities of rural farm life. ...read more.


The messages of the poems are both based around childhood and the inevitability of losing it along with the innocence that comes with it. "Death of a Naturalist" is about learning that nature is wild and untamable but also that nature has a purpose and that is to grow and reproduce just as a child losing innocence and growing into an adult does. We also see from a child's eyes that learning can be scary and threatening like when "the great slime kings;" the frogs give the impression that they will have "vengeance" on the boy for tampering with nature, where in fact the frogs understand a lot less than the boy does. "The Early Purges" highlights the broad differences between urban and rural life, however the main message is quite different. Instead of the certainty of life, the message of this poem seems to be about the certainty of death. Through the child learning that death is also a "fact of life," it leads us to think about death and how sanitized, sugar coated and "unnatural" it is in today's society. And again from the child's eyes we see that growing up and gaining understanding is difficult and can be "suddenly frighten[ing]." ...read more.

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