Poems can capture important moments in our lives. Discuss how Seamus Heaney and Carol Ann Duffy have described the ending of childhood innocence in their poems.

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English and English Literature Assignment A (crossover piece)

Poems can capture important moments in our lives.” Discuss how Seamus Heaney and Carol Ann Duffy have described the ending of childhood innocence in their poems.

Both Carol Ann Duffy and Seamus Heaney describe the end of childhood innocence in their poems, especially in In Mrs Tilscher’s Class by Duffy and Death of a Naturalist by Heaney

In Mrs Tilscher’s Class by Duffy, there are four regular stanzas each with eight lines. Throughout the poem Duffy uses enjambment effectively.  In Death of a Naturalist by Seamus Heaney, there are two irregular stanzas, the first with 21 lines and the second with 12 lines. This provides a gap in the poem that signifies the end of childhood innocence. The two poems are instantly different from each other. In In Mrs. Tilscher’s Class, childhood classroom memories are the main focus, and Duffy uses a focus point; Mrs. Tilscher. In Death of a Naturalist there is no real focus point, however the poem is based around one memory.

In Mrs Tilscher’s Class immediately brings the reader into the poem, and therefore the poet’s past, by using the term ‘you’. This engages the reader, and almost allows the reader to experience the poem first hand. However, Death of a Naturalist starts in a different person, and it describes the content of the poem in a different way, in the third person. Death of a Naturalist describes a past memory, and starts with many dire descriptions of objects. ‘flax-dam festered’, ‘Flax had rotted there’ and ‘huge sods’ all represent an unpleasant way of looking at life, without childhood innocence. Throughout the beginning to the poem there is a tone of nastiness. Frogs are mentioned many times, and this suggests that Heaney is describing his outlook on life, and what happens in the life cycle. Alliteration such as ‘jampotfuls of the jellied specks’ is used extensively throughout the poem. Heaney uses the frogs to symbolise the life cycle ‘Miss Wallis would tell us how the daddy frog and the mammy frog laid hundreds of little eggs and this was frogspawn’, and this gives a childish feel to the poem. However, behind this unpleasantness, is the innocence of children. Instead of seeing these things such as ‘festered’, ‘bluebottles’ and ‘slobber’ as they really are, a child looks at things differently, and in the poem sees everything as fun and an adventure. For example, in the sentence ‘Bubbles gargled delicately, bluebottles wove a strong gauze of sound around the smell’, an adult would see a smelly, slimy place full of flies, whereas an innocent child would see an interesting place to explore and have fun.

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In contrast to this, In Mrs. Tilscher’s Class is set in a classroom, and childhood innocence is portrayed by learning, ’Mrs Tilscher chanted the scenery’.  Senses such as taste, hearing and touch are used too ‘You could travel up the Blue Nile with your finger, tracing the route while Mrs Tilscher chanted the scenery’. This is describing what happening is, and this description allows the reader to relate to the poem. Children laugh, and have fun in a different environment to that of Death of a Naturalist. The children feel safe, and this safety is presented by Duffy saying ‘Brady and ...

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