The Senses

While studying with the OU there was a particular  poem I read when learning about ‘the senses’. It has stayed with me ever since and I treasure it. I have read nothing since that has affected all my senses in the same way that this poem did. It reminded me of my childhood in parts and it opened the door to:-

  • sounds that you can hear
  • textures that you can feel
  • odours that you can smell
  • flavours that you can taste
  • objects that you can see

Enjoy this poem by Shamus Heaney


Death of a Naturalist

All year the flax-dam festered in the heart

Of the townland; green and heavy headed

Flax rotted there, weighted down by huge sods.

Daily it sweltered in the punishing sun.

Bubbles gargled delicately, bluebottles

Wove a strong gauze of sound around the smell.

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. 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. Miss walls would tell us how

The daddy frog was called a bullfrog

And how he croaked and how the mammy frog

Laid hundreds of little eggs and this was

Frogspawn. You could tell the weather by frogs too

For they were yellow in the sun and brown

In rain.

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. The air was thick with a bass chorus.

Right down the dam gross bellied frogs were cocked

On sods; their loose necks pulsed like sails. Some hopped:

The slap and plop were obscene threats. Some sat

poised like mud grenades, their blunt heads farting.

I sickened, turned and ran. The great slime kings

Were gathered there for vengeance and I knew

That if I dipped my hand the spawn would clutch it.