Shop now Shop Clothing clo_fly_aw15_NA_shoes Shop All Shop All Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop Amazon Fire TV Shop now Shop Fire HD 6 Shop Kindle Voyage Shop Now Shop now
Death of a Naturalist and over 2 million other books are available for Amazon Kindle . Learn more
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 4 images

Death of a Naturalist Hardcover – 1 May 1966

26 customer reviews

See all formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition
"Please retry"
Hardcover, 1 May 1966
£26.86
--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Special Offers and Product Promotions

  • Save £20 on Amazon.co.uk with the aqua Classic card. Get an initial credit line of £250-£1,200 and build your credit rating. Representative 32.9% APR (variable). Subject to term and conditions. Learn more.


Free One-Day Delivery for six months with Amazon Student


Product details

  • Hardcover: 57 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; FIRST EDITION edition (1 May 1966)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571066658
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571066650
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,243,904 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Seamus Heaney was born in County Derry in Northern Ireland in 1939. Death of a Naturalist, his first collection of poems, appeared in 1966 and since then he has published poetry, criticism and translations - including Beowulf (1999) - which established him as one of the leading poets of his generation. In 1995 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. District and Circle (2006), his eleventh collection, was awarded the T. S. Eliot Prize. Stepping Stones, a book of interviews conducted by Dennis O'Driscoll, appeared in 2008. In 2009 he received the David Cohen Prize for Literature. His twelfth collection of poetry, Human Chain, was published in 2010.

Seamus Heaney died in Dublin on August 30th, 2013

Product Description

Amazon Review

First published in 1966, this debut collection by Seamus Heaney signals the talent that was to win him the Nobel Prize in 1995. Largely addressing his rural childhood in County Derry, the volume begins with "Digging", a poem which encapsulates Heaney's early concerns about roots, belonging and the supple joy of language. As he watches his father digging the flowerbed, he recalls him working the potato drills and lines of turf 20 years before. "By God, the old man could handle a spade. / Just like his old man." Heaney is renowned for getting inside language and revelling in its sensual glut. He talks of "the squelch and slap / Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge / Through living roots." He too severs roots, being the first generation not to depend on the land. "But I've no spade to follow men like them. / Between my finger and my thumb / The squat pen rests. / I'll dig with it." Heaney has the bewildering genius of being loose and tight at the same time, conversational and colloquial as well as formally rigorous. He's equally at home and as wildly inventive in blank and rhyming verse. In Death of a Naturalist, he takes the reader to the festering flax-dam where "bluebottles / Wove a strong gauze of sound around the smell" and he gathered "the warm thick slobber / Of frogspawn." He delights in excess, in textures--"a glossy purple clot" of ripe blackberry, its flesh like "thickened wine". "For the Commander of the Eliza" is savage in its depiction of the famine: "Six grown men with gaping mouths and eyes / Bursting the sockets like spring onions in drills." The captain of the ship refuses to give out food on Whitehall's orders. In "At a Potato Digging", Heaney compares contemporary potato-gatherers at their "seasonal altar of the sod" and the piles of spuds, "live skulls, blind-eyed" to those who "wolfed the blighted root and died". He renders the famine unavoidably stark and present. Almost every poem demonstrates his resourceful, elastic use of language and Heaney ably achieves what he aims to do: "I rhyme / To see myself, to set the darkness echoing." --Cherry Smyth --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

The classic collection reissued in a beautiful new hardback edition. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By William Burn VINE VOICE on 28 Mar. 2008
Format: Paperback
Returning to this book some ten years after I first encountered Seamus Heaney (under the inescapably unfortunate constellation of GCSE English coursework) I was a little unsure what I would encounter. Those first readings of "Mid-term Break" left me slightly puzzled: these were clearly moving, often quite funny stories, but I didn't "get" the poetry. I couldn't tell what it was that Heaney was doing with language. In short, it all seemed a little, well, pointless.

But now, rather older, and maybe a little wiser (though that's hardly a great improvement: I was a particularly useless example of a 15 year old boy), I find in Heaney a stunning ability to weave language into something that is far more than the sum of its parts. There is a denseness to his poetry, not in the sense of obscurantism or difficulty, but in the sound it makes when you read it, in the weight of the syllables in your mouth, that sets him apart from any other poet I know. And this is not to claim some sort of affective fallacy, whereby the weight of his verse evokes the weight of the Irish soil, but to mark his writing out as something more firm, more resilient, than texts that could be so easily dismissed by a rather glib, arrogant young man.

And now I turn again and again to Heaney, seeing in his writing great thought, close observation and honesty, and I am grateful for the time that has passed.
2 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Captain Pugwash on 24 April 2009
Format: Paperback
I first encountered Seamus Heaney as a 22 year old completing an ACCESS to university course. I was immediately impacted by the simplicity and hidden depths within; Heaney's genius lies in his familiarity with the everyday and his ability to confront our preconceptions with poetry that appears rough and ready but which is in fact beauty wrapped up in dirt and the mundanity of everyday life.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Rgs Draycott on 8 Feb. 2006
Format: Paperback
In Heaney's early work Heaney struggles to follow men like his ancestors, and rhymes anout a alust fro childhood innocence. The older Heaney uses the voice of the peat bog where the ground speaks with a voice, Heaney's conscious voice. The poems are meant for introspection as they open inwards to a dark place where Heaney can see and discuss the 'cured wound' of a Northern Irish Roman Catholic in the midst of Northern Ireland's conflict.
Seamus Heaney's first collection of poems is an accessible and understated experiment in lyrical description. It was written in 1966 and what first strikes us now is an adherence to metrical and rhyming (usually off-rhyming) patterns which are today considered undesirably strict. Much of the time Heaney smacks of Larkin - without (for this reader) the touch of Larkin's charismatic individuality. But one quickly appreciates the earnest craftsmanship of these poems. Indeed Heaney's characteristic equation of poetry with 'working', 'labouring', etc. is evident throughout these early pieces. 'Between my finger and my thumb / The squat pen rests. / I'll dig with it.': there are many instances here of words being forged or moulded or indeed excavated to create a construct of sincere meaning.
This is what poetry is all about. Heaney has a strong, unambiguously masculine voice that can, at times, sound like sixteenth-century verse ('Scaffolding' reads like a latterday metaphysical poem). Elsewhere - despite a perhaps enervating lack of humour and whimsicality (although, on consideration, it is by no means a total lack) - these poems sound confident, clear-sighted and sensitive in the way that we see all men of the land as (stubbornly, gruffly) sensitive.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By kim on 31 Jan. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Amazing ! Wondered what all the fuss was about ? Read this ! The man is an artist with words and it will get you interested in poetry.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By L. Davidson VINE VOICE on 17 July 2014
Format: Paperback
I am a bit of a philistine when it comes to poetry. I don't really "get" it and I don't understand a lot of it. I recently read an anthology of Ted Hughes poems and I thought most of it was incomprehensible gibberish. "Death of a Naturalist" is a lot easier to get into than that book. Most of the poems are about the poets rustic upbringing and they are fairly comprehensible .I recall studying a number of them for my English Literature GCE "O" Level in the early 1980's , such as "Digging", "Follower" , "Docker" and "Death of a Naturalist". However I can't say that I really enjoyed reading these poems but I'll persevere with my poetry reading anyhow.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
By Blue Monday on 19 Jun. 2014
Format: Paperback
I read this again recently after many years. It's a beautiful book of poetry and still stands head and shoulders above so much poetry written today. No rhyming couplets here - note to so-called poets selling their wares on here - just raw emotion. Blackberry picking remains my favourite poem and takes me back to days of study. Ah...
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
By Pippin on 6 Sept. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I read this work when much younger and was moved by Mid-Term Break, granted a visionary perspective through the Turkey and provided life wisdom with the last line of St Francis and the BIrds. Now I remember youth, the Derry of my school days and reading Seamus Heaney from the same school sick bay.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
By Desmond Mckinney on 21 Oct. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
not for everyone i suspect but my advice to a reader who is unsure of Heaneys poetry is to persevere.Read in a quiet room without distractions;relax and take it as it comes.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Look for similar items by category


Feedback