“The Early Purges” has seven stanzas and his perspective changes from the fifth stanza. The first five stanzas describe death in an almost “sickening” way; it sickens the reader but keeps them enthralled. All the dead animals are listed so beneath the surface so we are subconsciously warned that there is a reason for this vindictiveness. When he realizes that some animals do have to be “purge[d],” he uses the term “bloody pups.
” This could be taken metaphorically and literally, either “bloody” because they really are bloody and dead or as he now understands that pups are an inconvenience and he shouldn’t become “sentiment[al]” towards them because he has no need for them.
The ending of each poem has a considerable affect on the reader. Throughout “The Early Purges” we become ignorant urban folk who are al for the “prevention of cruelty,” because we have little experience of death ourselves and how important keeping “pests down” actually is in rural life.
This is precisely the affect the poem intended to have. As each animal is killed we find ourselves increasingly against the regulation of small animals. Subsequently when we are informed of how useless these animals are we feel criticized as “townies” and almost nai?? ve and innocent of the harsh realities of rural farm life. We are taught that we can’t afford to be compassionate in all circumstances. However, in “Death of a Naturalist” we are reminded of our own innocence when the boy is so intrigued by nature, he would “watch the fattening dots burst into nimble swimming tadpoles.
” He had no questions about how the “dots” got there until his teacher starts talking about the “facts of life,” even if she did it in such a euphemistic way. Consequently in the second stanza we feel repulsed by nature as the boy realizes and learns about reproduction. It is reminiscent of how “obscene” sex and the “circle of life” can seem to a juvenile. The titles of these poems have varying meaning. “Death of a Naturalist” is somewhat ironic and “The Early Purges” quickly suggests eradication of a chosen group.
“Death of a Naturalist” is ambiguous since it is metaphorical as well as literal; literal because ironically his love of nature dies before he actually becomes a real naturalist as in the title. The metaphorical meaning is that it’s the end of a phase in his life and he may not continue to be so eager about nature; i. e. a loss of childhood. “The Early Purges is a little harder to interpret. It’s also an ambiguous title. It could suggest that he is learning, or that the “purge” is of an idea.
In this case, the idea (in a child’s mind) that all animals are good things to have is purged. A literal meaning could be that unwanted animals are purged. It also suggests that the poem will be about childhood or that these purges were the starting of other things or a new outlook, as when he grew accustomed to these killings the young boy “forgot” the how shocking the first murders were. The messages of the poems are both based around childhood and the inevitability of losing it along with the innocence that comes with it.
“Death of a Naturalist” is about learning that nature is wild and untamable but also that nature has a purpose and that is to grow and reproduce just as a child losing innocence and growing into an adult does. We also see from a child’s eyes that learning can be scary and threatening like when “the great slime kings;” the frogs give the impression that they will have “vengeance” on the boy for tampering with nature, where in fact the frogs understand a lot less than the boy does.
“The Early Purges” highlights the broad differences between urban and rural life, however the main message is quite different. Instead of the certainty of life, the message of this poem seems to be about the certainty of death. Through the child learning that death is also a “fact of life,” it leads us to think about death and how sanitized, sugar coated and “unnatural” it is in today’s society. And again from the child’s eyes we see that growing up and gaining understanding is difficult and can be “suddenly frighten[ing]. “