death of a naturalist by seamus heaney

despite its relative fame, i find this a difficult poem (the nature reader, pages 3-4). i think i’m out of practice, i’ve become lazy–spoon-feed me info.

first, the lingo. what is a flax-dam, and why is one festering in whose heart? a townland?  tgfg. we are told that we ‘do not need to know what a flax-dam is to appreciate the poem, as Heaney describes the features that are relevant to what happened there.’ nevertheless, ‘A flax dam (traditionally called a lint hole), in Northern Ireland is not really a dam, but a pool where bundles (called “beets”) of flax are placed for about three weeks to soften the stems. The process is called “retting”. Those who used to do this work report that the smell is very strong and unpleasant.’

second, irony. i used to know what it is. has no place, tho, in an info world. this isn’t a death but a birth. where’s my sense of humour going? stale like 3-day-old fart?

read it again. and again. now it makes more sense. don’t be so lazy.


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