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Seamus Heaney's Blackberry-Picking and Death of a Naturalist Essay

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Seamus Heaney's Blackberry-Picking and Death of a Naturalist


Blackberry Picking gives a lucid description of basically, picking
blackberries. However it is really about hope and disappointment and
how things never quite live up to expectations. ‘Blackberry picking’
becomes a metaphor for other experiences such as the lack of optimism
already being realised at an early age and the sense of naivety looked
upon from an adult analysing his childhood; “Each year I hoped they’d
keep, knew they would not”, consequently a sense of regret. Death of
A Naturalist is similar to Blackberry Picking in its subject and
structure. Here, too Heaney explains a change in his attitude to the
natural world, in a poem that falls also into two parts, a somewhat
idyllic past and present torn by various conflicts. The experience is
almost like a nightmare, as Heaney witnesses a plague of frogs
comparable to something from the Old Testament.

In the first section of Blackberry Picking, Heaney presents the
tasting of the blackberries as a sensual pleasure – referring to sweet
“flesh”, to “summer’s blood” and to “lust”. He uses many adjectives
of colour and suggests the enthusiasm of the collectors, using every
available container to hold the fruit they have picked. There is also
a hint that this picking is somehow violent – after the “blood” comes
the claim that the collectors’ hands were “sticky as Bluebeard’s”,
this simile is a representation of a man whose hands were covered with
the blood of his wives. This is an unmistakable connotation of
aggressive excitement in the picking of the berries; an almost hidden
undertone of the death of nature, thus ...


... middle of paper ...


...child will remain with you
as an adult. Being inquisitive and fascinated by the simplest natural
developments (ripening of a berry) allows him to relate the growth and
development of nature to himself. He obviously has vivid images of
precise moments in his childhood and as an adult attempted to analyse
his thoughts. Each year the ‘berries would ripen’ and go and the
‘frogs’ are fundamentally “adults” to tadpoles. I feel his childhood
fear of the maturity in the ‘berries ripening’ and apprehension of the
“adult” frogs is actually a fear of ‘growing –up’. He builds an
ongoing theme of time and year after year as the berries age so do the
children. Disappointments are expected in early learning and his
ability to return forces him to acknowledge his growth and development
into an adult as a ‘natural’ part of life.


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