Death of an Naturalist

Heaney recalls how, as a youngster with a vivid imagination, he was open to disturbing dreams, describing how his childish enthusiasm for nature around his Irish townland turned into a nightmarish tale fed by his guilty perception of having committed a crime and his dread of punishment. He recounts the annual All year flax process (that leads eventually to the production of linen), picking out the natural phenomena surrounding it: gases given off (bubbles gargled delicately); abundance of insect life (bluebottles/ wove a strong gauze of sound …/ dragon-flies, spotted butterflies). The language is rich in alliterative and assonant effects ( flax-dam festered … heavy-headed) with a vocabulary of fermentation (festered … rotting … sweltered … smell). To a boy […]