Follower by Seamus Heaney FH Follower by Seamus

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Follower by Seamus Heaney F/H

Follower by Seamus Heaney F/H

Follower by Seamus Heaney The title is ambiguous and gives a sense both of

Follower by Seamus Heaney The title is ambiguous and gives a sense both of Heaney literally following his father and metaphorically following him as any child ‘follows’ a parent. The poem concludes with this metaphorical relationship reversed as you will see F/H

Heaney remembers being a boy and his experiences of following his father around the

Heaney remembers being a boy and his experiences of following his father around the farm as he ploughed the field. The poet goes on to describe how he used to follow his father and he would then stumble and it was necessary for his father to pick him up and carry him on his back. The poem ends with Heaney considering the way roles have changed now that he is older and a poet and it is his father who follows him. My father worked with a horse plough, His shoulders globed like a full sail strung Between the shafts and the furrow. The horses strained at his clicking tongue. An expert. He would set the wing And fit the bright-pointed sock. The sod rolled over without breaking. At the headrig, with a single pluck Of reins, the sweating team turned round And back into the land. His eye Narrowed angled at the ground, Mapping the furrow exactly. I stumbled in his hobnailed wake, Fell sometimes on the polished sod; Sometimes he rode me on his back Dipping and rising to his plod. I wanted to grow up and plough, To close one eye, stiffen my arm. All I ever did was follow In his broad shadow around the farm. I was a nuisance, tripping, falling, Yapping always. But today It is my father who keeps F/H stumbling Behind me, and will not go away. The poet’s affection for his father is obvious. As is his admiration for the skill he has when working the land During the first three stanzas of the poem, the poet recalls his father working the fields. Heaney recalls how, at this time in his life, his only ambition was to follow in his father’s footsteps and to be like him

Past tense as Heaney reminisces about his child-hood. ‘worked’ implies both the labour itself

Past tense as Heaney reminisces about his child-hood. ‘worked’ implies both the labour itself and the control that his father had Admiration presented as a simple statement of fact The precision and skill is suggested again with words like these My father worked with a horse plough, His shoulders globed like a full sail strung Between the shafts and the furrow. The horses strained at his clicking tongue. An expert. He would set the wing And fit the bright-pointed sock. The sod rolled over without breaking. At the headrig, with a single pluck Of reins, the sweating team turned round And back into the land. His eye Narrowed angled at the ground, Mapping the furrow exactly. I stumbled in his hobnailed wake, Fell sometimes on the polished sod; Sometimes he rode me on his back Dipping and rising to his plod. I wanted to grow up and plough, To close one eye, stiffen my arm. All I ever did was follow In his broad shadow around the farm. I was a nuisance, tripping, falling, Yapping always. But today It is my father who keeps F/H stumbling Behind me, and will not go away. The father’s skill and expertise are emphasised by the language used to describe his work ‘globed’ suggests the power and size of the man in Heaney’s eyes The skill of a sailor and smooth progress of a ship is evoked through these words and phrases

Heaney’s use of technical language shows his familiarity with the work of his father

Heaney’s use of technical language shows his familiarity with the work of his father and perhaps suggests how long ‘followed’ for Enjambment is used throughout the poem to suggest the flowing continuous nature of his father’s work Caesura is also used to force the reader to dwell on Heaney’s view of his father Repeated use of present participle (-ing) verbs lends an immediacy to the poem My father worked with a horse plough, His shoulders globed like a full sail strung Between the shafts and the furrow. The horses strained at his clicking tongue. An expert. He would set the wing And fit the bright-pointed sock. The sod rolled over without breaking. At the headrig, with a single pluck Of reins, the sweating team turned round And back into the land. His eye Narrowed angled at the ground, Mapping the furrow exactly. I stumbled in his hobnailed wake, Fell sometimes on the polished sod; Sometimes he rode me on his back Dipping and rising to his plod. I wanted to grow up and plough, To close one eye, stiffen my arm. All I ever did was follow In his broad shadow around the farm. I was a nuisance, tripping, falling, Yapping always. But today It is my father who keeps F/H stumbling Behind me, and will not go away. The effort and power of the horses contrasts with the effortless ease of his father’s control Heaney uses contrasts in the poem not just of past an presnent but also… Polished mud? Unusual image perhaps stressing the care his father took Heaney wanted to plough but only ever followed

Literal following; Heaney is not skilled or big enough to walk on the fields

Literal following; Heaney is not skilled or big enough to walk on the fields without falling. Does Heaney still feel in his father’s shadow? Does he regret that he no longer ‘follows’ him? Why does his father stumble now? Why is his father now the ‘follower’ My father worked with a horse plough, His shoulders globed like a full sail strung Between the shafts and the furrow. The horses strained at his clicking tongue. An expert. He would set the wing And fit the bright-pointed sock. The sod rolled over without breaking. At the headrig, with a single pluck Of reins, the sweating team turned round And back into the land. His eye Narrowed angled at the ground, Mapping the furrow exactly. I stumbled in his hobnailed wake, Fell sometimes on the polished sod; Sometimes he rode me on his back Dipping and rising to his plod. I wanted to grow up and plough, To close one eye, stiffen my arm. All I ever did was follow In his broad shadow around the farm. I was a nuisance, tripping, falling, Yapping always. But today It is my father who keeps F/H stumbling Behind me, and will not go away. Could this also suggest that stumbled in his desire to ‘follow’ his father as a ploughman? “tripping, falling, yapping” emphasises the nuisance he was Marks a change of tone and tense Does Heaney really want his father to go away? Why does the memory appear to have soured?

Comparisons • Catrin – This poem also deals with the mixed feelings and changing

Comparisons • Catrin – This poem also deals with the mixed feelings and changing feelings that can exist in a relationship between parents and children – the mother’s perspective. • • On My First Sonne – A poem about an extremely affectionate relationship between father and son, although once again from the parent’s perspective. • • The Song of the Old Mother – Link would be that this poem considers the cycle of life and the way in which the roles of people change with age. • The Affliction of Margaret – Nature of parent / child relationships. F/H

Themes • Nature – The importance of nature is seen clearly in the poem,

Themes • Nature – The importance of nature is seen clearly in the poem, with the father clearly an expert farmer and the poet clearly having a strong bond with the natural world. • Relationships – The relationship that exists between the father and son is at the core of the poem. • It is very clear that the son loves his father and admires him, as can be seen in his desire to follow in his footsteps. • The end of the poem serves to suggest the natural cycle of life – all people one day get old and the son will take the role of the father. F/H

Review • What does the poem show of the relationship of father and son,

Review • What does the poem show of the relationship of father and son, and how time has changed this? • What does the last line of the poem mean? Does Heaney really want his father to “go away”? • Is this a poem about farming specifically or is it relevant to other skills and occupations? • How does Heaney explore the idea of family tradition here? • In what way should the poem be read (tone)? • Would this change as the poem draws to a close? F/H