I’ve never done anything but dream. This, and this alone, has been the meaning of my life. My only real concern has been my inner life. FERNANDO PESSOA

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Slime Kings And Mud Grenades

An orgy of frogs in our garden pond today.

Death of a Naturalist

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.
Daily it sweltered in the punishing sun.
Bubbles gargled delicately, bluebottles
Wove a strong gauze of sound around the smell.
There were dragon-flies, 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. 

SEAMUS HEANEY

6 comments:

The Weaver of Grass said...

Wonderful, wonderful poem Robert - absolutely full of onomatopaeia.

Susan Scheid said...

Fantastic, wild riot of a poem. I can't think of a better paeon to spring.

George said...

What a perfect paring of the poem with your photo. Like the poet, I wouldn't be inclined to dip my hand into your garden pond at this point. Slime kings and mud grenades are best left undisturbed.

The Solitary Walker said...

Yes, a lusciously visceral, mud-sucking poem, Pat, Susan and George!

dritanje said...

A brilliant poem, though I cannot feel the same way about frogs. Ever since I listened to them in spring nights from my balcony in Tirana, the sound of frogs is utterly magical to me, always conjuring up memories of that springtime and my life there.

Archie The Don said...

i have to say, this poem is about far more than just nature and frogs. but about losing innocence as one reaches adulthood