Journey from Child to Adult in Death of a Naturalist?

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How successful is Seamus Heaney in portraying the journey from child to adult in Death of a Naturalist?

Death of a Naturalist, is a collection of poems written by the Irish poet, Seamus Heaney in 1966. In this collection, Seamus recalls his memories as a little boy. Many poems are about his childhood experiences and him growing up. The title given to the collection, which is also the name of one of the poems, can refer to the loss of innocent enthusiasm a child has while studying, collecting, and observing nature and doing mostly universal activities when one is younger. Growing up can be defined as the evolution from the baby, to the child, to the adult, and finally death. We will see how well Heaney was able to describe the transition from innocence and childhood to reality and adulthood.

One of the basic changes in the journey from child to adult that is well shown is language. In many poems Heaney uses a childish language to explain what a kid might think and feel. One can read this language in “Death of a Naturalist” when he names the bullfrogs “daddy frog” and “mammy frog” and when he talks about the frogspawn as “little eggs”. In the poem “Early Purges” there is an evolution of the language. In the beginning, he talks childishly about the drowning of the kittens, but near the end, the poet talks about the dogs as “ Bloody pups”. This shows how harsher the adults are about reality than kids. Children use simple language whereas the language of the adults can be more complicated and sometimes inappropriate.

In some poems such as “An advancement of Learning” the poet uses jumps in time to show the evolution of the of the child. In this particular poem, the poet expresses the fear of rats he used to have as a child :

“My throat sickened so quickly that
I turned down the path in cold sweat”
In the ninth stanza, one can finally see Heaney's mental evolution. The writer portrayed this scene of maturation because the reader can...
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