- Slides: 5
FOLLOWER By Seamus Heaney
Seamus Heaney � Born in County Derry, Northern Ireland on April 13, 1939, Seamus Henry published his first book in 1966, Death of a Naturalist, which created stirring portraits of his rural upbringing. Later titles like Field Work and The Haw Lantern looked at his homeland’s tumultuous political affairs. A lover of mythology, Henry has taught at Berkley, Harvard and Oxford, and won the Nobel Prize in 1995.
Historical Background 1950 -1959: 1. Korean War Begins. 2. Joseph Mc. Carthy Begins Communist Witch Hunts. 1960 -1969: 1. First Televised Presidential Debates.
Summary A son admires and aspires to be like his father, a farmer. The whole poem is a recollection or reminiscence of his past. That is until the end of the poem where he writes that his father is struggling to keep up with the son. In the poem he describes just how good a farmer his father was when he was younger and what he has become.
Analysis Heaney describes his father at work when he was at his prime. It starts of with a matter-of-fact that his father “worked with a horse plough”. From then on the tone is one of admiration and respect for the strength and skill of his father. His shoulders are “globed”: with connotations of immense rounded size, just like the earth he is tilling. Nautical imagery is employed as these same shoulders are “globed like a full sail” – gaining a feeling of power and energy being harnessed and powered along. The second stanza opens with the minor sentence, “An expert” which both sums up the first stanza and leads into the development of the idea of expertise in the second – move away from brute power into the skill of his father in ploughing. “The sod rolled over without breaking”. Echoing the click of the tongue, there is “a single pluck/of reins” which turns the team of horses round. The third stanza continues to give an impression of precision: “Mapping the furrow exactly. ” The fourth stanza moves the focus from his father to Heaney himself. There is a marked contrast with his father as Heaney ”stumbled”. There is an immature ineptitude conveyed here, as he “fell sometimes”. He describes being given a piggy-back and he was carried along with him. Heaney states that it was an ambition to plough like his father, and there is a tinge of sadness that “All I ever did was follow in his broad shadow”. He was never going to be as good as his father at ploughing. He was “a nuisance, tripping, falling, /Yapping” like some kind of foolish and playful puppy. The tables are turned in the last two lines when Heaney brings the poem up to the present: “it is my father who keeps stumbling/Behind me, and will not go away”.