Faber Book of Beasts Compare the Way the Poets Represent Frogs

Read the following poems by Seamus Heaney (‘Death of a Naturalist’) and Ted Hughes (‘Bullfrog’) in The Faber Book of Beasts (pp. 67-68 and pp. 42-43). In no more than 600 words, compare the ways in which the poets represent frogs.

Whilst the poems subject, poetic form and speaker are the same, their representations of frogs are in stark contrast, especially by the end of the poems.

Seamus Heaney’s ’Death of a Naturalist’ is written in two large verses. I am conscious that Heaney seems to want the reader to journey through the frog’s life cycle. He starts by describing the ‘warm thick slobber of frogspawn’ (Assignment Booklet, 2014, pp27) in the flax dam. Heaney gives a sense of slow calmness in this section by slowing your reading with broken lines such as’ heavy headed/ Flax’ (Assignment Booklet, 2014, pp27). When describing the tadpoles the poem comes alive with the tadpoles ‘burst into nimble swimming tadpoles’ (Assignment Booklet, 2014, pp27). The poet seems to represent the tadpole as fun and childish and the alliteration of jampots and jelly helps this childish imagery ’jampotsfuls of the jellied specks’ (Assignment Booklet, 2014, pp27). At the end of this verse Heaney shares interesting facts about the frog’s ability to change colour with the weather. Here there seems to be an element of respect creeping in. However the second verse is where we encounter the adult frog and the tone changes. The representation of the calm spawn and fun tadpole is lost and the respect seems to be laced with fear ‘turned, and ran’ (Assignment Booklet, 2014, pp27).   Although this verse is littered with ugly language such as rank, cow dung, gross bellied, sickened and slim. Heaney is seen here to credit the frogs with human like qualities such as anger and threatening ‘obscene threats’ (Assignment Booklet, 2014, pp27). Heaney suggests that they have come for vengeance which plants the idea that the frogs have organised themselves. He also uses the simile of a grenade...