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'Death of a Naturalist' is a poem with an ambiguous title. What is the actual meaning of this the title and how is it fully revealed in the poem?

'Death of a Naturalist' is a coming-of-age poem by Irish poet Seamus Heaney. It has an ambiguous title with a meaning that is fully revealed throughout the poem. The poem describes a young boy's fascination with nature, at least at the beginning of the poem.

The first section of 'Death of a Naturalist' focuses on the young boy experiencing nature and on his fascination with the life-cycle of frogs. The tone and word choices are generally positive and he describes the wildlife with apparent glee. His language is also rather childlike: He calls the male frogs 'daddy frogs' and the female frogs 'mammy frogs'. The second stanza is a lot darker than the first and describes the wildlife, especially the frogs (who are called 'gross-bellied' and 'slime kings'), in a much more unpleasant manner. I believe this is done to emphasise the change within the boy as he matures because at the start of the poem the boy seems to view the wildlife as there for his amusement whilst by the end of the poem he has realised that nature is independent of him and potentialy dangerous. This demonstrates the meaning of the title because his naive ambition to be a naturalist is quashed by his greater understanding of nature, therefore his ambition to become a naturalist has 'died'.

Two contrasting quotes that demonstrate the change in the boy are 'but best of all was the warm, thick slobber' and 'that if I dipped my hand the spawn would clutch it'. They both describe the same substance, the frog spawn, but come from different stanzas of the poem. The first describes the spawn positively, in a 'pleasantly disgusting' way much like the slobber from a pet dog. The latter quote is from the second stanza and describes the spawn closer to quicksand, pulling in whoever touches it. The two reactions to it demonstrate the boy's changing attitudes towards nature as he matures.

Another interpretation of the 'clutching' spawn is that, as the spawn is the juvenile form of the frog, it represents his youthful love of nature and the 'clutching' is the youthful part inside of him wanting to stay and be with nature. Contrasting this is the adult frogs, representing the new, mature aspect of his personality, who are trying to warn him off (as shown by the 'obscene threats'). This helps reinforce the idea that he has 'come of age' and the violent, agressive imagery justifies the title's use of the word 'death'.

'Death of a Naturalist' is a seemingly simple poem that portrays the maturing of the protagonist excellently and reflects nostalgicly on childhood and the worries that come with adolescence and adulthood. For me, it is very effective and the skillful word choice and use of figurative speech only reinforces the effectiveness.

James Penny


JamesPenny

JamesPenny

 

WorkExp v2

Before going on work experience I had little idea of what I wanted to do after school. I knew that I wanted to do something creative, especially if it involved music, and I knew that a job involving computers was the best way to make as much money possible by doing as little as possible (thanks to most people's ignorance of how computers work). However I did not manage to put the two together in a way that I thought would be interesting. My work experience at Banana Row, a famous (or possibly infamous) recording studio in Edinburgh's Stock-bridge, changed this. It annoyed me at the time for not putting two and two together earlier. What job afforded shorter hours, comfier chairs and bigger comissions than Sound Engineer (assuming a political career is out of reach)?

The atmosphere at Banana Row was very relaxed although not quite as relaxed as its past (when customers included Eric Clapton and Steve Miller, not that they can remember). When I arrived I was greeted by Evan, who would be my superviser for the week. Originally it was Fraser, the manager, who was supposed to be my superviser but he was in Nigeria. He'd been playing a corporate gig for an oil company when he was arrested (along with his band-mates) for having expired visas. Although their visas were in date it took a week for this to be 'verified' which, according to the organiser of the gig, was pretty common for white people in the area.

My hours were ten until four, but all I had to do was vacuum and mop the rehearsal rooms in the morning. After that strenuous fifteen minute job I spent most of the day playing guitar and watching Nick, the Sound Engineer. I once had to go to Tesco to buy milk and tea which, being a vegan, led to a minor moral dilemma. When Evan said I could keep the change I soon decided that, as I was only buying milk and not actually drinking it, my immortal soul would be un-blemished. The only other task I had was to help set up for a corporate dinner in Mansfield Church (just around the corner from Banana Row). This involved setting up stands for instruments and microphones, programming the sound board (a fairly simple task as I'd picked up quite a bit helping school productions) and trying to get the caterers to stop touching our equipment. Again, this wasn't exactly strenuous but it was good to see what goes on behind the scenes at events like these.

In my opinion it was watching Nick record and mix that was most interesting and useful. I got to learn how to use the expensive, handmade effects equipment (although just touching it would of voided many warranties) and use the bespoke software that he uses to put tracks together and record. There were many things that I already knew of and knew what they did but had no idea how they did it. For example a kick drum and electric bass occupy the same frequency range which means you can only hear one at a time (usually whichever is louder). An equaliser can make both audible by removing alternating frequencies so that the two 'mesh' together.

During my time at Banana Row there was not many customers. A few (honestly) terrible bands came in to practice which I expected but there was quite a lot of good bands to, although no famous ones. One of the most surprising things was the amount of mentally disabled and/or ill customers there were. Many of those who had mental illnesses from birth came in to simply bang on drums to relieve the frustration and aggression which built from their inability to function 'normally'. However there was one man who had dementia (I think, Alzheimers is another possibility) and couldn't remember basic information but could still play the drums perfectly. I don't know if the prolifiration of similar cases was because of medical advice or simply because of their own initiative, but it seemed rather popular.

There were only two bands recording during my week at Banana Row. The first was a terrible indie band who had won recording time in a competition (my theory is that they either cheated or no one else entered) and tried to play songs they had written themselves. These avant garde musicians had taken the concept of playing in key and thrown it out the window. Sadly, in the rush of the moment, they had also thrown all their talent and sense of perspective out of the window. Nick tried to talk them into playing covers (suggestions included 'Ba ba black sheep' and other childrens songs) but they had decided that what they were doing was 'Good' and were having none of it.

The other band was possibly the polar opposite of the first. They were a touring blues band who've played since the early 80s and had success at festivals and opening for other acts but had no luck getting signed. This was to be their first album since the 80s and they were set on doing it right. As an example of their dedication, the female vocalist spent 8 hours in one day just recording her parts. It was interesting seeing the difference in Nick's attitude between the two bands. For the first he had done what he had to but, when the time was up, the time was up. With the second he stayed on mixing the album long after their time ran out. I think this is a good time to point out that, on top of an annual salary, Nick gets GBP200 a day when he is recording. On average he spends 4 days recording a week. To do what you enjoy and find easy for 4 days a week and walk away with what most people earn in a month in one day is, to put it succinctly, brilliant.

I learned a lot about what I want to do after school at Banana Row. I've now decided that a degree in sound creation is best for me beacuse it covers sound engineering like at Banana Row but also covers scoring for TV, Films and Video Games and creating sound effects. After two years you can then specialise in one of the three and by that point I hope to know where I want to go. If I had the oppurtunity I would go back to Banana Row, but any jobs there have a long list of applicants, most with many years experience in the industry so it's unlikely.

However, in spite of the good time I had at Banana Row and the direction it has given me in life, I would say that the most positive thing about the week was that it convinced my mum that dropping maths at higher would not lead to a life on the streets cursing my lack of foresight and wishing I could calculate the exact amount of shame that I had brought upon my family but unable to because I hadn't taken maths. For this it was a godsend and I shall be eternally grateful.

JamesPenny

JamesPenny

 

WorkExp

[size="2"]Before going on work experience I had little idea of what I wanted to do after school. I knew that I wanted to do something creative, especially if it involved music, and I knew that a job involving computers was the best way to make as much money possible by doing as little as possible (thanks to most people's ignorance of how computers work). However I never managed to put the two together in a way that I thought would be interesting. My work experience at Banana Row, a famous (or possibly infamous) recording studio in Edinburgh's Stock-bridge, changed this. It annoyed me at the time for not putting two and two together earlier. What job afforded shorter hours, comfier chairs and bigger comissions than Sound Engineer (assuming a political career is out of reach)?

The atmosphere at Banana Row was very relaxed although not quite as relaxed as its past (when customers included Eric Clapton and Steve Miller, not that they can remember). When I arrived I was greeted by Evan, who would be my superviser for the week. Originally it was Fraser, the manager, who was supposed to be my superviser but he was in Nigeria. He'd been playing a corporate gig for an oil company when he was arrested (along with his band-mates) for having expired visas. Although their Visas were in date it took a week for this to be 'verified' which, according to the organiser of the gig, was pretty common for white people in the area.

My hours were ten until four, but all I had to do was vacuum and mop the rehearsal rooms in the morning. After that strenuous fifteen minute job I spent most of the day playing guitar and watching Nick, the Sound Engineer. I once had to go to Tesco to buy milk and tea which, being a vegan, led to a minor moral dilemma. When Evan said I could keep the change I soon decided that, as I was only buying milk and not actually drinking it, my immortal soul would be un-blemished. The only other task I had was to help set up for a corporate dinner in Mansfield Church (just around the corner from Banana Row). This involved setting up stands for instruments and microphones, programming the sound board (a fairly simple task as I'd picked up quite a bit helping school productions) and trying to get the caterers to stop touching our equipment. Again, this wasn't exactly strenuous but it was good to see what goes on behind the scenes at events like these.

In my opinion it was watching Nick record and mix that was most interesting and useful. I got to learn how to use the expensive, handmade effects equipment (although just touching it would of voided many warranties) and use the bespoke software that he uses to put tracks together and record. There were many things that I already knew of and knew what they did but had no idea how they did it. For example a kick drum and electric bass occupy the same frequency range which means you can only hear one at a time (usually whichever is louder). An equaliser can make both audible by removing alternating frequencies so that the two 'mesh' together.

During my time at Banana Row there was not many customers. A few (honestly) terrible bands came into practice which I expected but there was quite a lot of good bands to, although no famous ones. One of the most surprising things was the amount of mentally disabled and/or ill customers there were. Many of those who had mental illnesses from birth came in to simply bang on drums to relieve the frustration and aggression which built from their inability to function normally. However there was one man who had dementia (I think, Alzheimers is another possibility) and couldn't remember basic information but could still play the drums perfectly.

There were only two bands recording during my week at Banana Row. The first was a terrible indie band who had won recording time in a competition (my theory is that they either cheated or no one else entered) and tried to play songs they had written themselves. These avant garde musicians had taken the concept of playing in key and thrown it out the window. Sadly, in the rush of the moment, they had also thrown all their talent and sense of perspective out of the window. Nick tried to talk them into playing covers (suggestions included 'Ba ba black sheep' and other childrens songs) but they had decided that what they were doing was 'Good' and were having none of it.

The other band was possibly the polar opposite of the first. They were a touring blues band who've played since the early 80s and had success at festivals and opening for other acts but had no luck getting signed. This was to be their first album since the 80s and they were set on doing it right. As an example of their dedication, the female vocalist spent 8 hours in one day just recording her parts. It was interesting seeing the difference in Nick's attitude between the two bands. For the first he had done what he had to but, when the time was up, the time was up. With the second he stayed on mixing the album long after their time ran out. I think this is a good time to point out that, on top of an annual salary, Nick gets GBP200 a day when he is recording. On average he spends 4 days recording a week. To do what you enjoy and find easy for 4 days a week and walk away with what most people earn in a month in one day is, to put it succinctly, brilliant.

I learned a lot about what I want to do after school at Banana Row. I've now decided that a degree in sound creation is best for me beacuse it covers sound engineering like at Banana Row but also covers scoring for TV, Films and Video Games and creating sound effects. After two years you can then specialise in one of the three and by that point I hope to know where I want to go. If I had the oppurtunity I would go back to Banana Row, but any jobs there have a long list of applicants, most with many years experience in the industry so it's unlikely.

However, in spite of the good time I had at Banana Row and the direction it has given me in life, I would say that the most positive thing about the week was that it convinced my mum that dropping maths at higher would not lead to a life on the streets cursing my lack of foresight and wishing I could calculate the exact amount of shame that I had brought upon my family but unable to because I hadn't taken maths. For this it was a godsend and I shall be eternally grateful.


JamesPenny

JamesPenny

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