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Throughout this assignment I will be examining how Seamus Heaney's attitude towards childhood is portrayed throughout his poetry. I will initially be looking at individual poems, then drawing a collective conclusion of his overall childhood impressions.

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Introduction

Seamus Heaney 'Death of a Naturalist' Throughout this assignment I will be examining how Seamus Heaney's attitude towards childhood is portrayed throughout his poetry. I will initially be looking at individual poems, then drawing a collective conclusion of his overall childhood impressions. The poem Follower shows that the child's view of farming is that of imitating his father's actions: 'I wanted to grow up and plough, To close one eye, stiffen my arm.' Heaney obviously admired his father then: 'All I ever do is follow' This metaphor is seen through the poem although the positions are now reversed: 'But today It is my father who keeps stumbling Behind me, and will not go away.' ...read more.

Middle

The poem The Early Purges is about the loss of innocence. The theme is of the first time Heaney as a boy witnessed the farmhand killing kittens: 'I was six when I first saw kittens drown.' However, as the poem continues he obviously becomes used to this action 'It makes sense:' and 'on well-run farms pests have to be kept down.' Heaney's language turns to that of swearing when he refers to the puppies as: 'bloody pups,' when he tries to copy the language of Dan, who describes the kittens as: 'the scraggy wee shits,' So here we see an older person trying to deceive a child and therefore protect him from his compassion: 'Sure isn't it better for them now?' ...read more.

Conclusion

When comparing Heaney's poems I can see that as a child he had an enormous fascination with death. The fact that in the poems Mid-Term Break and The Early Purges he can remember how old he was when the kittens were drowned and the time on the clock when he was driven home after his brother was killed. This shows his attention to detail and how he considered much of his childhood to have revolved around death and dying. Where as in Follower and Digging they are about Heaney as a child, and his father. In these we can compare what Heaney has become and what expectations were put upon him as a child, both by others and himself. By Stephen McIlwaine ...read more.

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