Study Guide

Death of a Naturalist Innocence: Meet "The Young Naturalist"

By Seamus Heaney

Innocence: Meet "The Young Naturalist"

Our young speaker is alive with curiosity and amazement. He's super-stoked about what nature dishes out to him, particularly the gooey bits gurgling away in the flax dam. He listens with awe as his teacher explains what the deal is with frogspawn, and becomes a collector and connoisseur of the jellied globs. He's not only excited to witness the cool stuff that's happening in nature, but to partake in it, too. Who knows, maybe he'll be the next Jane Goodall or Steve Irwin.

  • Lines 7–8: Heaney uses imagery to paint a pleasant picture of buzzing, pretty things. He then, oddly, follows with the image of warm thick slobber. However, it's still seen through the speaker's innocent and rose-colored glasses. This kiddo loves everything about this spot, even if it seems gross to us. 
  • Lines 10–11: Spring is typically symbolic of newness and rebirth. In this case, the newness could relate to the young speaker's enthusiasm toward nature. He's still young and learning about it. The symbolic nature of spring could also have to do with the birth of the frogs. The speaker is collecting frogspawn, which is essentially just a heapin' helpin' of baby frogs.
    The words Heaney chooses, his diction, also contributes to a sense of innocence. "Jampotfuls of the jellied" sounds sweet. It kind of reminds us of "My Favorite Things", just in a totally gross way. 
  • Lines 15–19: This is probably the best evidence of the speaker's innocence. In school he's learning about the reproductive habits of frogs, yet it doesn't seem like he's able to equate that the "daddy" and "mammy" frog have to actually have sex to create frogspawn. It still seems like a magical process to him and Heaney tells it in a very childlike and innocent tone
  • Lines 19–21: More fun facts! The speaker is curious, innocent, and wanting to learn. He knows the frogs interest him, but that doesn't mean he fully understands them yet.

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