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For my coursework I am going to compare the following poems, “In Mrs Tilscher’s Class” by Carol-Ann Duffy and “Death of a naturalist” by Seamus Heaney. From reading them I get the impression of childhood memories. Both poets are writing about their childhood making these poems autobiographical. Carol-Ann Duffy’s poem states: “The laugh of a bell swung by a child… ” This shows the bell is personified as it laughs and we know that bells don’t laugh. Seamus Heaney also uses personification. He states: “Bubbles gargled delicately”

By stating this he is giving the bubbles, a non-living characteristic, living characteristics. Both poets write about a teacher. In Heaney’s poem we hear of a teacher “Miss Walls”. In Duffy’s poem we learn about the teacher “Mrs Tilscher”. In the second stanza of Duffy’s poem, we catch a glimpse of her inner-child. She uses short sentences such as: “Enthralling books” “Sugar paper” “Coloured Shapes” “This was better then home” This is effective as it childish language she is using and this then gives the impression that she is imagining herself in the classroom as the young child.

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Seamus Heaney also appears to have been connecting with his inner child when he was writing this poem. He tells us of “mammy” and “daddy” frogs which are also childish language or phrases. Duffy’s poem states; “The classroom glowed like a sweetshop” This would seem attractive to a child, and therefore Carol-Ann Duffy would have found the classroom an attractive place to be. However Heaney appears to have a different view to things. The poem states; “In the shade of the banks” This gives the reader the impression of a dull boring place, not an attractive one to be in.

This makes the reader think Heaney didn’t like the school he was in. From reading Carol-Ann Duffy’s poem we get the idea that she felt safe when she was in the classroom as it says; “Brady and Hindly faded like the uneasy smudge of a mistake” Brady and Hindly were two people that the children should have worried over or have been scared of. They murdered children. The way Duffy describes her thought of them is that she is worried about them as much as she would worry about a mistake on her page.

By this she means that she had no reason to worry as she was in a safe place when she was inside the classroom with Mrs Tilscher. Heaney expresses negative memories of school when he says; “I was sickened, turned and ran” This gives the impression that he was sickened because of the tadpoles and as he learned of the tadpoles in school this made him become sickened of school. We can learn from Duffy poem that Mrs Tilscer’s class was taken seriously. The poem says; “The scent of a pencil slowly, carefully shaved” “A xylophone’s nonsense heard from another form” “Some mornings she’d left a gold star by your name”

The first point expresses the seriousness of the class as it shows even the sharpening of a pencil was taken seriously. The second point also how seriousness as the class was so quiet the atmosphere of another room could be heard. The final point shows that if you took her class seriously then she would discreetly surprise you with a gold star. The discreetness expresses the seriousness as attention was not attracted to the star. In conclusion, I think that Carol-Ann Duffy’s poem “In Mrs Tilscher’s Class” shows a more vivid and memorable childhood in comparison with Heaney’s “Death of a Naturalist”.

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