Compare and contrast how Seamus Heaney and Carol Ann Duffy have described the ending of childhood innocence in ‘Death of a Naturalist’ and ‘In Mrs Tilcher’s class’. Introduction To answer this question I will look at the poetic features of each poem. Each poem I am going to talk about focuses on the loss of childhood innocence. The two poems I am going to talk about are different from each other as ‘Death of a Naturalist’ by Seamus Heaney is a dull scary type of poem.
‘In Mrs Tilcher’s class’ by Carol Ann Duffy seems less of fear and more uplifting then changes to shame at the end of the poem, ‘But stared at your parents, appalled’ Both poems end negatively. Each poet comes from a different upbringing. Seamus Heaney is from Northern Ireland and lived in a farm where he collected frogspawn. This poem reminded you more of what you did outside school during your free time as I did that a lot when I was younger. I loved playing in the fields with friends and finding frogspawn was a great experience.
Carol Ann Duffy represented school in the greatest way possible because as I was it, it reminded me so much of my primary school days. Duffy’s upbringing was different from Heaney’s which you can tell from her poem. She was born in Glasgow and then moved to Liverpool. Her poem is more indoor than outdoor and a great image of what her life was like in primary school is told in this poem. In my own childhood experience I find that both poems reminded me of what I did in school and in my free time. Reading these poems brought me back to when I was once a young child.
Coursework – main piece! Each poets backgrounds are different from each other. Seamus Heaney is from Northern Ireland and had a rural upbringing on the other hand Carol Ann Duffy was born in Glasgow and probably had a more urban upbringing. Duffy’s poem is her own personal experience which makes us know how she felt in the classroom. Heaney’s poem probably is one of his own experiences because he lived in a farm where he would have collected frogspawn. I think poems were influenced by their own childhood experiences and were described with great detail.
Both poems describe the ending of childhood innocence in different ways. At the start of Duffy’s poem it seems more calm and happy, ‘Mrs Tilcher chanted the scenery’ It seems like a more calm and colourful room which made you feel warm and make you smile, ‘The classroom glowed like a sweetshop.’ Heaney’s poem seems more dull and doesn’t give you a nice image, ‘Flax had rotted there’ The word ‘rotted’ gives you an ugly image of something old and dirty been there for ages. It also makes you feel uncomfortable as you read it, ‘Daily it sweltered in ‘the punishing sun’ The word ‘punishing’ gives you a very unhappy feeling and makes you think of pain.
A similarity in the poem is that they both mention frogs and tadpoles. Mostly in ‘Death of a naturalist’ but also in ‘In Mrs Tilcher’s class’, ‘Three frogs hopped in the playground’ Although the frogs are described very different in each poem because in Heaney’s poem the frogs are made out to be scary, ‘Angry frogs’ Whereas in Duffy’s poem they just sound like innocent little creatures, ‘Jumping and croaking away from the lunch queue.’ The clean images of each poem is a big difference as Duffy’s sounds and smells fresh or clean, ‘Then scent of a pencil slowly, carefully, shaved.’ On the other hand Heaney’s is the opposite, ‘Wove a strong gauze of sound around the smell’ and ‘cow dung’. These quotes make you imagine the smell which isn’t nice and makes you feel a bit sick.
Both poems end the same as they both end with a negative feel. Duffy’s poem ends where the parents are appalled at the child, ‘But stared at your parents, appalled’ Also it makes you feel how the child feels as they can’t wait to get out of school, ‘You ran through the gates, impatient to be grown.’ In Heaney’s poem it ends in fear, ‘That if I dipped my hand the spawn would clutch it’ Both poems use a lot of alliteration but in different ways. At the start of Heaney’s poem he used alliteration in a negative way, ‘heavy headed’.