Death Of A Naturalist Poem by Seamus Heaney

Death Of A Naturalist

Rating: 3.4


All year the flax-dam festered in the heart
Of the townland; green and heavy headed
Flax had rotted there, weighted down by huge sods.
Daily it sweltered in the punishing sun.
Bubbles gargled delicately, bluebottles
Wove a strong gauze of sound around the smell.
There were dragon-flies, spotted butterflies,
But best of all was the warm thick slobber
Of frogspawn that grew like clotted water
In the shade of the banks. Here, every spring
I would fill jampotfuls of the jellied
Specks to range on window-sills at home,
On shelves at school, and wait and watch until
The fattening dots burst into nimble-
Swimming tadpoles. Miss Walls would tell us how
The daddy frog was called a bullfrog
And how he croaked and how the mammy frog
Laid hundreds of little eggs and this was
Frogspawn. You could tell the weather by frogs too
For they were yellow in the sun and brown
In rain.
Then one hot day when fields were rank
With cowdung in the grass the angry frogs
Invaded the flax-dam; I ducked through hedges
To a coarse croaking that I had not heard
Before. The air was thick with a bass chorus.
Right down the dam gross-bellied frogs were cocked
On sods; their loose necks pulsed like sails. Some hopped:
The slap and plop were obscene threats. Some sat
Poised like mud grenades, their blunt heads farting.
I sickened, turned, and ran. The great slime kings
Were gathered there for vengeance and I knew
That if I dipped my hand the spawn would clutch it.

COMMENTS OF THE POEM
John McCrohan 02 July 2021

A beautiful poem that is a pleasure to read and even better to be read aloud! It is very effective in capturing childhood interaction with nature and how we may interpret its uniqueness

0 0 Reply
Bill Wright 31 August 2016

What a brilliant poem. The reviewer below ought to be kicked off this site if he has not already been. Heaney's observations, memories of childhood and his descriptions are brilliant, atmospheric and ring a bell with those of roughly the same age as him.

9 8 Reply
Jeff Evans 23 January 2015

JEFF WAS HERE!!! Oh yeah the poem was shit

17 31 Reply
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Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney

Castledàwson, County Londonderry
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