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Heaney's Poem Follower Essay

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Heaney's Poem "Follower"


Follower is a poem about the poets love and admiration for his father.
It is also about the changes that occur between father and children as
children move out from their parent’s shadow.

In the first half of the poem the poet draws a vivid portrait of his
father as he ploughs a field. The poet, as a young boy, follows his
father as he goes about his work and, like most boys, he idolises his
father and admires his great skill, ‘An expert. He would set the wing
and fit the bright steel – pointed sock’.

In the poem, Heaney looks up to his father in a physical sense,
because he is so much smaller than his father, but he also looks up to
him in a metaphorical sense. This is made clear by the poet’s careful
choice of words. An example of this is in the lines, ‘His eye narrowed
and angled at the ground, mapping the furrows exactly.’ These words
effectively suggests his father’s skill and precision. We are also
told that young Heaney ‘stumbled in his hob – nailed wake,’ which
brings to our mind a picture of the ploughman’s heavy boots, the
carefully ploughed furrow and the child’s clumsy enthusiasm.

The poet uses onomatopoeic words to capture the details of his father
as he works the plough. At the end of the first stanza he describes
him leading the team of plough-horses, instructing them with his
“clicking tongue”. In the second stanza his father guides the horses
with “a single pluck Of Rains”. It is interesting that the
onomatopoeia here emphasises the great skill with which the poet’s
father controls and guides his horses. It shows again his “expertise”
and ease with the animals as he ploughs the field into furrowed lines.

In the second half of the poem, the focus shifts...


... middle of paper ...


... burst" shows growth and reproduction. Heaney's school
teacher, Ms Walls, is hiding the reality of reproduction from the
young children as they are not yet ready to accept the reality of the
situation. He is disgusted at the thought of reproduction because he
sees things through the surrealistic eyes of a child because of the
stage he is at. He isn't ready to accept sex. He can't rationalise.
Puberty makes him feel guilty. In the end he runs away, "I sickened,
turned and ran", which shows that he has not fully grown up.

In this poem, Heaney uses terms we do not expect to see in poetry, and
presents nature as the very opposite of beautiful. Heaney shows how
children are very ingenuous and naïve and see the world as being very
pure and wholesome just as it is in their imagination. He also shows
that there is a transformation from childhood to adult hood.


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