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Death of a Naturalist

Death of a Naturalist

Seamus Heaney


I rhyme
To see myself, to set the darkness echoing.

Heaney's first volume of poems all relate to his growing-up in the country. Lots of the allusions are to an Ireland that still exists, untouched by the progress, boom, and bust of recent years, recognisably "country".

The most famous poem in this volume is "Mid-term break", describing Heaney's returning home to the funeral of his younger brother, once again perfectly recognisable as an Irish country removal and wake in a way that wouldn't be familiar elsewhere. Although I must say that my own favourite is "Storm on the Island" that describes how a storms comes over an empty West-of-Ireland landscape:

We just sit tight while wind dives
And strafes invisibly. Space is a salvo,
We are bombarded by the empty air.
Strange, it is a huge nothing that we fear.

Sentiments I recognise in myself at every storm I sit out.

5/5. Finished 16 November 2013.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)

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