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Compare and contrast the ways in which conflict/war is presented in which `Catrin'
and `Death of a naturalist'?
`Catrin' and `Death of a naturalist' both present this idea of a conflict; in `Catrin' this
conflict is based on the difficult bond created between mother and child and how this bond
is challenged in life. Whereas in `Death of a naturalist' the conflict lies between the
innocence of young Heaney and the sexual realisation he is met with one summer. He feels
not only disgusted by the sexual process and the way in which it occurs as well as being truly
Structurally the poems are different in the sense that `Death of a naturalist' is of a
greater length, reflecting the way in which a specific memory/encounter is retold. However
`Catrin' is more general and retells the ever-changing challenges that occur within the family.
Both poems incorporate one stanza break situated fairly centrally. In `Catrin' this is done to
show the time passing by; after the stanza break both poems tone seems to change to a
more serious tone and the conflict becomes apparent. Neither of the poems have any
rhyme nor meter giving them the style of free verse. `Death of a naturalist's' rhyme scheme
follows no specific order or rhyme; `heart, headed, sods'. `Catrin' does so similarly and
follows no rhyme whatsoever; `child, white, watching'. The lack of rhyme scheme could
illustrate tension and the serious nature of the two poems. `Catrin' flows with more ease
though as it uses a lot of enjambment and internal rhyme on line twenty two; `strong, long'
although this isn't maintained throughout- this shows her pride in her daughter, which
juxtaposes her feelings of anger and conflict that were expressed earlier in the poem.
`Catrin's' use of language is tender and warm which reflects her feelings of love and
appreciation for her daughter. `I can remember you, child' sounds soft and shows fond
memories flowing back to her mind. The alliteration in `Catrin' shows the long daunting
waiting process experienced when having children, and in the process likens it to waiting for
the traffic lights to change; `window watching'. The `w' sound is a strong consonant sound
which suggests fear of the ongoing waiting and anticipation for it to come to an end. `Death
of a naturalist' also presents alliteration on the `c' sound; `coarse croaking'. The `coarse'
nature suggests discomfort and also hints at the sexual nature of what is happening and
Heaney's sudden realisation about sexual activity. A metaphor is used by Heaney to describe
the frogs as `slime king's this has obvious sexual connotations but could also be interpreted
as being repugnant and physically dirty. `Slime' and `kings' act as an oxymoron because the
slime is presented with metaphorical power which we know is not possible. `Catrin' similarly
uses a metaphor to describe the bond between child and mother: The umbilical cord links
the two and that connection is constant (it connected them for a long time and this cannot
be altered) like the bond they seem to share; `red rope of love'. She hints at this connection
throughout and shows that despite experiencing conflict the bond will remain.
Feelings and ideas are presented that relate both poems; these feelings are the way
in which the child's innocence has been destroyed over a short period of time. Both poems
Emma McCormackPage 1
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Clarke displays frustration for the way in
which her bond is challenged and despite the umbilical cord once holding the two together-
a bond that she believes is constant and cannot be broken by any force. On the contrary,
Heaney shows his surprise when he realises the nature of sex and how this suddenly
destroys his love nature because he doesn't view it as a natural process at all.…read more