The first one I will be studying is called “ Blackberry- picking”. Heaney writes about when he was a child, he picked blackberries as a child in the summer. The joy it gave him is likened to an awakening of sexual excitement, finally the disappointment he felt when the fruit turned sour, after all the hard work he said it was “ unfair”. Heaney addresses certain issues such as growing up, acceptance, realisation, adulthood, disillusionment, sensual pleasure (lust), sexual awakening and greed.
Heaney creates the carefree mood by the sound of the berries “ tinkling” on the “ milk cans” He uses the onomatopoeia by using the word “ tinkling” which gives the affect of the sound of the berries. It starts innocently and gets darker towards the end. He feels disbelief, depression, frustration and also sexual awakening. Heaney used “ free verse”, everyday and matter of fact language. He looks back in first person, his point of view, in past tense. There is no clear rhythm except from lines 3, 4 and the last 2 lines at the end of the poem. The language in Blackberry Picking is mostly straightforward and informal.
The most obvious imagery is of blood. Heaney uses similes to creative the scene such as the following “ hard as a knot” which emphasis the density. “ Our palms sticky as Bluebeard’s”, Heaney is comparing his hands to Bluebeard’s (because Bluebeard killed his wife) this shows that Heaney is feeling guilt as if there were blood on his hands. Heaney is hinting that all is not well. The nightmarish visions of “ Death of a Naturalist” are there again. When speaks of “ big dark blobs” which are “ burned” he said they are “ like a plate of eyes”. Heaney describes the taste “ like thickened wine” which links to the image of a clot.
Heaney uses the “ bleached our boots” to creative the feeling muddy and wet, which is also alliteration. He uses the onomatopoeia by using the word “ tinkling” which gives the affect of the sound of the berries. “ Summer’s blood” which is a metaphor this shows the heightened awareness of the initiate. “ Rat- grey fungus, glutting on our cache” is personification, it conjures images of rotting carcass and he feels disappointment The second poem I will work on is called “ Death of a Naturalist”. It is about Heaney as a young lad collecting frogspawn. He was enthusiastic about the natural world.
He used to take the frogspawn to school to show the teacher. She tells him the process; he quotes the words “ mammy frog” and “ daddy frog” which heighten our sense of thoughts of the child. There is an atmosphere of innocent childhood through out the first verse In the second verse the boy returns to the dam but now a sense of danger and menace begins to grow because he realise what he took from the frogs. The frogs’ croaking is “ coarse” they “ slap” and “ pop” as they jump into the water and this sounds to him like obscene threats. He feels that if puts his hand in the water it some how be trapped by the floating frogspawn.
The scene that he previously enjoyed sickens him. Heaney addresses certain issues such as growing up, realisation, nature and innocence. This can be see by the following quotes ” daddy frog” and “ mammy frog”. The poem ends with a frightening fantasy that the frogs have gathered there for vengeance because he stole the frogspawn. The poem presents the same scene of the flax dam and the frogs in two lights first innocent vision of childhood and pleasure, second a place of unpleasant smells, decay and potential danger he also links the poem to the troubles in North Ireland by using this quotes “ mud grenades”.
Heaney creates the mood at the start as excited. He loved to learn about nature. In the second stanza it is about realisation-scared, paranoid and very disturbed he as found out that the world has a darker side, he shows us this by writing “ poised like mud grenades”. Heaney used “ free verse” In the first stanza, happy childhood memories are presented. The second stanza is unhappy, growing up, realisations, menace views of the world are portrayed because he has see the real world. The poem is divided into 2 unequal verses of 20 then 12 lines. The lines are of uneven lengths and there are no end rhymes.
The language in “ Death of a Naturalist” in the first verse is showing us Visual imagery, childlike and basic, simplistic language. The similes both are violent, war-like images “ lose necks pulsed like sails ” and “ poised like mud grenades”. The alliteration are “ heavy headed” and “ wait and watch”, the onomatopoeia are ” gargled” and “ slobber” they give the effect of the frog are going to attack him. In the second verse Heaney is showing us imaginative, dramatic, graphic violent strong lexis.
In both verses they have enjambment sentences on the following lines , 2, 5, 6, 11-13, 22 and 23 this creates an uncertain effect. The final poem is called “ Digging” and is about family tradition of farming throughout the generations it deals with Heaney’s realisation that he has a skill somewhere else and that he will earn his living with a pen rather than a spade, breaking a family tradition and become a poet. The main issue that Heaney addresses is his connection to his family is very important. This poem describes country skills and scenes very vividly, farmer life childhood, growing up, the past, memories, self-acceptance and guilty journey.
He is comparing his pen with gun, which can be linked to the troubles in north Ireland or to said that a pen can be used to write things that can inspire people to riot and violence or draft an appeal for peace which suggest to me that Heaney is hinting the power of the writer can have over events. Heaney’s mood in this poem is pensive, realistic, thoughtful, sensibility; guilty he feels is because he can’t carry on the tradition he was a creative mind and the skills in something else, independent and of acceptance. Heaney uses all the senses in the descriptions of his father and his grandfather digging.
The language is simple apart from comparing his pen to a gun there are no similes, metaphors or images, just clear descriptions of men working Heaney uses informal, common everyday language, down to earth, feelings, thoughts the onomatopoeia’s are the following, “ rasping” “ nicking” “ slicing” “ squelch and slap of soggy peat”. The alliteration are has follow “ he rooted out tall tops”,” buried the bright”,” gravelly ground” and “ the curt cuts of an edge” all these devices help the reader to visualise his father whilst digging.
The poem is written in loose irregular lines as though someone were thinking aloud, in 1st person point of view. No definite sense of rhyme but some rhyme in the second verse at the end. Heaney starts at the present and goes back to the past and then back to when he started. There is an enjabement sentence on the second verse and the sixth verse. In conclusion, after studying Heany’s poem, I feel that he presents the loss of childhood by writing these poems showing us his journey into adulthood these deal with growing up realisation, innocence, and memories as a child.
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