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Discuss the view of the world which Heaney presents as surrounding himself as a child from your reading of the following poems:Digging, Death of a Naturalist, The Barn, Blackberry-Picking.

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Introduction

Discuss the view of the world which Heaney presents as surrounding himself as a child from your reading of the following poems: Digging, Death of a Naturalist, The Barn, Blackberry-Picking, Churning Day, Follower, The Diviner, Thatcher, The Forge, Undine and At A Potato Digging Seamus Heaney was a poet who, as a child, grew up in a catholic Irish family in protestant Northern Ireland. His family was a farming family which lived in a rural environment, and thus this is the sort of world which surrounded Heaney as child growing up. The time is also important. Heaney was a child through out the 1940's, and the early 1950's. Therefore, technology was extremely limited, especially in rural areas, and the environment surrounding Heaney was a very traditional, farming one. Heaney presents us with a view of his childhood world which is complicated and deep, and which contains several aspects. The first of these aspects is how he sees things differently to their stereotype. When presenting us with his view of the world surrounding him as a child, he tends to employ a sense of imagination and the use of a different perspective. An example of this is available in the poem, 'The Barn', where he takes standard farm tools and items and describes them as "implements" in an "armoury" hoarded by "the musty dark". Churning Day is another example, where he takes what seems to be a standard, ordinary action, and describes it as something brilliant and special. ...read more.

Middle

In the first verse of the poem, we are told how the frogspawn of "jellied specks" would be collected into jam jars and then placed in school where the "fattening dots burst into nimble-swimming tadpoles". This is all fine and very well in the first stanza of the poem, however, the second stanza changes. The very use of the word "Then" as the first word of the second stanza suggests a change. Suddenly, everything turns very negative. There is a "coarse croaking that I [Heaney] had not heard". The "dam gross-bellied frogs were cocked"; which suggests that these frogs were cocked and poised like guns or weapons. And then, finally, Heaney "sickened, turned, and ran". Here there is a clear sense of change from the first stanza where Miss Walls the teacher would sit and tell the children how the "daddy frog was called a bullfrog". There are several other examples of this sense of change, such as the change from the past to the present in the poem 'The Forge' where the once empty road is now full of traffic and cars and where time has therefore moved on. Another example would be 'Blackberry-Picking' where the beautiful blackberries picked change into rotting, stinking fruit, and almost make young Heaney in the poem cry. However, the other major example of this sense of change is within the poem 'At a Potato Digging'. ...read more.

Conclusion

The fact that the labourers are reliant on the land, Mother Nature and the famine god for economics and survival, in this situation, is ironic. The final aspect of the view presented to us by Heaney which must be examined is the constant feel of alienation between himself and the agricultural world of farming and rural lifestyle. He provides us with several examples of description which indicates to us he feels/felt this way. For example, in 'The Barn', he takes an ordinary farm barn, a building which almost every single farm has, and converts it through his poetry into something horrifying and evil, using lines such as "cobwebs clogging up your lungs" and "the dark gulfed like a roof space". In 'Death of a Naturalist' he describes later in the poem how evil the frogs had become with their "blunt heads farting" and how they were "angry frogs" who were "dam gross-bellied". Many of his poems air this feeling of alienation he has with the rural world, even in 'Digging' he describes how his father and his grandfather worked so hard digging, and probably farming etc. yet he is working inside, with a "squat pen" resting between his finger and thumb, instead of a spade. They are the main aspects to be looked at regarding the view presented to us by Heaney of the world that surrounded him as a child. English Coursework - 10/02/2003 ...read more.

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