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A Comparison Of Heaney "Death Of A Naturalist" And Larkin "First Sight"

1084 words - 4 pages

The initial observation is that both poems contain connotations of nature, Death of a Naturalist focuses on frogs and First sight on Lambs. Both contain two stanzas, however the structure is not as standard in Death of a Naturalist as it contains a stanza of 21 lines followed by one of 12 whereas First sight has two stanzas of 7 lines.There are images of winter and death present in First Sight, "Meet a vast unwelcome, know nothing but a sunless glare". The title itself suggests a tone of unknowing and uneasiness. The animals were used to convey personal experience in a non-literal sense, for example the lamb is the symbol of life in its dead surroundings. First Sight is constructed with the rhyming structure of A, B, A, B, A, C, C. The 'C, C' is a rhyming couplet present at the end of each verse, this adds emphasis to these lines.Heaney's poem doesn't contain any rhyming structure simply due to the fact his lines do not rhyme. His poem uses the attitudes of a young boy though it is an older and wiser narrator reminiscing. You assume the boy was brought up with nature on a farm in the countryside. He speaks of learning the facts of life through his teacher, "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." The use of language is that of a child's in the previous quote, by using the word "and" twice shows the excitement that this boy had towards nature.In both poems the second stanza confirms the loss of excitement and betrayal through life. Death of a Naturalist begins with the word "then" implying the story tale takes a turn for the worst. First Sight has a morbid tone that is portrayed from the opening line, "Lambs that learn to walk in snow". Learning to walk on its own is a stressful task for lambs; the fact that snow is present creates a bond of empathy for the lambs between the poem and the reader. Since the lambs are learning to walk, this suggests that they are newly born. This symbolises a neutral point of view towards life, as they are new to the world and the troubles it may bring. The lambs themselves represent innocence and vulnerability. Things get progressively worse for them in the second stanza, their fleeces are wet and the untold future is waiting for them. Imagery is put to good use for the weather aspect as cold, snow and bleak conditions are described. Throughout the poem a negative tone prevails and the outlook seems pessimistic for the lambs.Heaney uses very graphic and intense imagery such as "like clotted water", onomatopoeia such as "wove a strong gauze of sound", hyperbole and oxymoron's such as "gargled delicately". He did this in order to attempt to portray and recreate his childhood feelings, thoughts and emotions in the best way possible through words. I think this is why he chose to write a poem instead of any other format. He was able to compare his childhood experiences with nature, to life itself.One...

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