Seamus Heaney's Portrayal of the Loss of Innocence

Seamus Heaney's Portrayal of the Loss of Innocence

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Heaney particually portrays the theme of 'loss of innocence' as a
child through his peoms, 'Death of a Natrualist', 'Blackberry
picking', 'Poem' and 'Personal Helicon'.

Death of a Naturalsit of the first of Heaneys poems to really express
this theme.


'All year round the flax-dam festered in the heart
--------------------------------------------------


of the townland;green and heavey headed
---------------------------------------

Flax rotted there.'

In the first stanza Heaney uses rich imagery and purposeful child-like
language such as 'festered' and 'warm thick slobber'. These create a
sense of the childlike adventure to be found in the surrounding area
and time that he had as a child. The language and images created by
Heaney help to engage the readers senses. These, although not always
pleaseant images portray the excitement to be found as a child. They
are also positive and fresah.

As the poem progresses into the following stanza there is a destinct
change in the mood of the peom.

'The air was thick with a bass chorus'

Agaijn Heaney uses rich imagery to explain his point. Phrases such as
'angry frogs' tell how his feeling towards them as a child has changed
and now they seem 'angry' rather then the 'nimble swimming tadpoles'
that thery were before. Heaney expresses this change in nature as the
change of season as wel for him as the actual changin from childhood
into adult life. Once innocent and stimulating images have changed
into aggressive and threatening things.

The title of this poem in itself holds the theme strongly. 'Death of a
Naturalist' suggests his interest in nature dying and being replaced
with more adult feelings.

'Death of a Naturalist' also liks closely to Heaney's poem 'Blackburry
picking'. The poem follows the similar two stanza approach, with the
first being full of childhood positives and the second folloing on to
more nagative images n nature.

This poem however focuses in more on nature itself and his perspecive.

'you ate that first one and its fleesh was sweet'

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Heaney remanisses on how he would go blackburrying and the experiences
that he had while he was there. By using the technique of using all
the positive images first Heaney is able to exaggerate the negative
images in the mind of thereader.

This is achieved in the second stanza.

It wasn't fair, that all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.'

The childlike, yet powerful images used in this stanza show him
laerning of the nagatives that are in nature. His obveous
dissapointment are apparent and the reader is therefore able to
sypmathise with Heaney and in life things often loose thire sense of
being wonderous and adventerous as you mature and grow up.

Heany's poem 'Poem' is especially about maturing and how it changes
the way th you view things in the world.

'I'd strip a layer of sod's to build the wall…

Yearly, admitting these, the sod would fall'

Here Heaney explains how as a child he would build things that always
ended up falling down, and by recalling childhood memory, saw the
faults in nature and things often going wrong, but hgim not really
noticing as a child.

The poem is adressesd to his wife and tell how she must help him to
mature.

'Love, you shall perfect for me this child'

the poem is about realisation of the need to grow up. No langer can he
build things that will fall down. Heaney explains that thins such as
love are to be immortal and last much longer than the items that he
delt with as a child. Now, he must build things that will last and
grow up. As he comments: 'And square the circle'. Things must now be
orderly and he must fit into adult life. He explains that she will be
the one that will help him to achieve this. This poem again, stronly
shows the loss of innocence and his need to grow up.

Heaney's poem Personal Helicon can be seen to be rather more positive
then the others mentioned so far.

'As a child they could not jepp me away from wells.'

In the poem he explins his facination with wells. This shows that as a
child he had a safe and secure childhood that he was able to. The rich
description as commonly used in many of Heanys poems represents his
experiences and learning in nature. He reflects on how he had to learn
about all the horrible things in nature as well as the good thinmgs
like the 'rat slapped across my reflection'.

Rather then ending with negative images, the reader can feel more that
he has accepted growing up but realises, perhaps more objectively that
things are different for adults.

'Now… to finger slime…

It beneath all adult dignity'

He talks about writing to 'set the darkness echoing' like he did when
he was a child, looking at the wells. He realises that his dream to be
a writer has repleced his facination with wells and that his
creativity has evolved rather then dissappeared.
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