"Death of a Naturalist" by Seamus Heaney

The speaker of this poem remembers collecting frog's eggs as a child, but is repulsed by watching frog's spawn in a rotting field in the present day.
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Explore the Words

definitions & notes only words
  1. fester
    ripen and generate pus
    All year the flax-dam festered in the heart
    Of the townland; green and heavy headed
    Flax had rotted there, weighted down by huge sods.
  2. sod
    surface layer of ground containing a mat of grass and roots
    All year the flax-dam festered in the heart
    Of the townland; green and heavy headed
    Flax had rotted there, weighted down by huge sods.
  3. swelter
    suffer from intense heat
    Daily it sweltered in the punishing sun.
  4. gargle
    utter with burbling sounds
    Bubbles gargled delicately, bluebottles
    Wove a strong gauze of sound around the smell.
  5. clot
    change from a liquid to a thickened or solid state
    There were dragonflies, spotted butterflies,
    But best of all was the warm thick slobber
    Of frogspawn that grew like clotted water
    In the shade of the banks.
  6. range
    extend over or occupy a certain area
    Here, every spring
    I would fill jampotfuls of the jellied
    Specks to range on window sills at home,
    On shelves at school, and wait and watch until
    The fattening dots burst, into nimble
    Swimming tadpoles.
  7. nimble
    moving quickly and lightly
    Here, every spring
    I would fill jampotfuls of the jellied
    Specks to range on window sills at home,
    On shelves at school, and wait and watch until
    The fattening dots burst, into nimble
    Swimming tadpoles.
  8. rank
    very offensive in smell or taste
    Then one hot day when fields were rank
    With cowdung in the grass the angry frogs
    Invaded the flax-dam; I ducked through hedges
    To a coarse croaking that I had not heard
    Before.
  9. coarse
    lacking refinement or cultivation or taste
    Then one hot day when fields were rank
    With cowdung in the grass the angry frogs
    Invaded the flax-dam; I ducked through hedges
    To a coarse croaking that I had not heard
    Before.
  10. obscene
    offensive to the mind
    Some hopped:
    The slap and plop were obscene threats.
  11. blunt
    having a broad or rounded end
    Some sat
    Poised like mud grenades, their blunt heads farting.
  12. spawn
    the mass of eggs deposited by fish or amphibians or mollusks
    The great slime kings
    Were gathered there for vengeance and I knew
    That if I dipped my hand the spawn would clutch it.
Created on November 13, 2019 (updated November 13, 2019)

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