An Advancement Of Learning Seamus Heaney Essay

An Advancement Of Learning Seamus Heaney Essay-16
Throughout the remainder of the poem, a martial theme is apparent, demonstrated by ideas such as ‘poised like mud grenades’, ‘great slime kings’ and ‘gathered there for vengeance’: to Heaney, these animals appear like belligerent warlords, determined to retaliate over the earlier theft of their frogspawn.They have already conquered the air, which is ‘thick with a bass chorus’, a masculine threat contrasting both with Miss Walls’s gently portrayal of the frogs, and the gauze before.Using assonantal para-rhyme in the alliterative phrase ‘green and heavy headed flax had rotted there’, he harnesses their slow, substantial sounds to convey the decaying atmosphere.

Throughout the remainder of the poem, a martial theme is apparent, demonstrated by ideas such as ‘poised like mud grenades’, ‘great slime kings’ and ‘gathered there for vengeance’: to Heaney, these animals appear like belligerent warlords, determined to retaliate over the earlier theft of their frogspawn.They have already conquered the air, which is ‘thick with a bass chorus’, a masculine threat contrasting both with Miss Walls’s gently portrayal of the frogs, and the gauze before.

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Even the opening word, ‘then’ signals a change in thought, an omen of what is to follow.

The line ‘one hot day when fields were rank’ almost imitates the sound of marching footsteps, as we are introduced to the ‘angry frogs’ that have ‘invaded the flax-dam’.

This is also indicated by his choice of words for the action and sound of their heads, which are described as ‘farting’, another rude, indecent comparison.

There are also religious undertones, as the infestation of frogs appears almost to be a Biblical plague from the time of Moses.

There is no description, only a simple, almost nostalgic recitation of his actions: he ‘would fill jampotfuls of the jellied specks’, before beginning to ‘wait and watch’ until at last, to his delight, the ‘fattening dots burst into nimble-swimming tadpoles’.

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He relates how his teacher has taught them about the lifecycle of a frog, proudly demonstrating his knowledge about how the ‘daddy frog was called a bullfrog, and how he croaked’ (an premonition of what he will later experience) and how ‘the mammy frog laid hundreds of little eggs’, taking on the role of a keen naturalist.Using the striking simile, ‘their loose necks pulsed like sails’, he depicts their grotesque animation, showing to the reader how shockingly alive they appeared to him.In the concluding line, even the frogspawn itself is nightmarishly endowed in the imagination of the child.He is fascinated by the frogspawn and tadpoles of the flax-dam’, but becomes repulsed by a horde of croaking frogs in their maturity.It is similar to another of Heaney’s works, ‘Blackberry-Picking’ in subject and style, as both centre on the change in Heaney’s attitude to the natural world, scaling the heights of pleasure before a crucial mood-swing to plumb the depths of revulsion.‘Death of a Naturalist’ takes the form of two contrasting parts, set out in blank verse: the first section conveys his enchantment with nature; the second demonstrates his disillusionment, as he begins to see the frogs not as his playful allies, but as a menace.The previous security the poet feels changes into threat, mirroring the transition of the tadpoles into frogs, and his own self-development.In 1995, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for ‘works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth’.After suffering a stroke in 2006, he published his twelfth collection, ‘Human Chain’ in 2010, and continues to work today.‘Death of a Naturalist’ is both a description of Heaney’s experience with nature as a boy, and a metaphor for the loss of his childhood innocence, as he looks back wistfully at his youthful naivety.These lines echo ones from another of his poems, ‘An Advancement of Learning’ (‘my throat sickened so quickly that I turned down the path in a cold sweat’), which is also concerned with the less appealing side of nature, in this instance, rats.The reader sympathises with his disgust at the surprising scene that he is confronted by, and Heaney uses lavishly indelicate onomatopoeia such as the deliberately crude ‘cocked on sods’, and ‘slap and plop’, which are compared to ‘obscene threats’: to him, this assault on the flax-dam is both explicitly offensive and hideously nauseating.

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