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Follower Analysis



Author: poem of Seamus Heaney Type: poem Views: 40

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My father worked with a horse-plough,

His shoulders globed like a full sail strung

Between the shafts and the furrow.

The horse strained at his clicking tongue.



An expert. He would set the wing

And fit the bright steel-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 and angled at the ground,

Mapping the furrow exactly.



I stumbled in his hob-nailed 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 round the farm.



I was a nuisance, tripping, falling,

Yapping always. But today

It is my father who keeps stumbling

Behind me, and will not go away.





Submitted by Andrew Mayers






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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

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The start of the poem tells of a young child idolising his father, his skill; It tells of the father's patience with, what the adult child now realises was the irritating distraction (the child) as the man tried to do his work.
And now the roles have reversed and his father follows him and "will not go away". With that hint at irritation he realises he cannot even measure up to his father's patient tolerance.

| Posted on 2014-02-25 | by a guest


.: :.

The start of the poem tells of a young child idolising his father, his skill; It tells of the father's patience with, what the adult child now realises was the irritating distraction (the child) as the man tried to do his work.
And now the roles have reversed and his father follows him and "will not go away". With that hint at irritation he realises he cannot even measure up to his father's patient tolerance.

| Posted on 2014-02-25 | by a guest


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The title "follower" is ambiguous and emphasises how seamus heaney admired his father and wanted to be exactly like him when he gets older. However, he is a poet instead and feels guilty that he didnt follow his fathers foot steps. However, i think this analysis could have included the historical and social context of the poem.

| Posted on 2014-01-02 | by a guest


.: :.

He uses first person narrative to relate to us the personal relationship he is going to explore.
“my father” gives the poem a distinctly personal appeal
The historical context and job of his father are also made clear when he tells us that he worked with a horse and plough. The fathers power then soon became clear when Heaney uses a very effective simile to capture the build and physical strength of his father recalling “his shoulders globed like a full sail strung.
He mentions that his father has skills working with the plough. Single pluck of reins means that he was able to motivate the horses to go back into the land again.
The Visual Image allows us to clearly see how huge he was through the eyes of a young boy.
1.I Stumbled...
Key Structural Device- The Poet Uses A Shift – moves from the young boy recalling his father’s powerful presence and skills to focus more on his memories of himself.
Negative Verb
(Contrast Used) He Views Himself Very Negatively ; The Father Was Viewed Very Positively In The Verb Choice.
2. “Hobnailed Wake” – 4th Nautical Image – Powerlessness, He Feels In Ever Being Able To Fill His Fathers Boots- follow in his footsteps.
3. “fell” another negative verb which contrasts with the oxymoron used “polished sod” to show how Powerless he felt in being able to be perfect.
4. the young boy fell on his fathers grave and is feeling useless “I stumbled in his hobnailed-wake”. The poet uses a negative verb. He tells us how powerful his father was but the young boy feels inadequate. The father is viewed very positively and the young boy is viewed very negatively. The poet focuses on himself now- shift, memories of working with his father on the farm.
5. “I wanted to grow up and plough” this tells us that the young boy wanted to grow up like his father and plough, past vision is being used. To close one eye, and stiffen my arm, all I ever did was follow, in his broad shadow around the farm.
“All I ever did was follow” the poet is telling us that all the young Heaney done was follow his father around the farm, assonance is being used.
6. “I was a nuisance, tripping, falling, yapping always” The poet is telling us that he sees himself as powerless against the powerful father. A succession of negative verbs
Is being used. “But today it is my father who is stumbling behind me, and will no go away. Assonance is being used

| Posted on 2013-12-17 | by a guest


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Seamus Heaney presents us in Follower the image of his father. The poem is divided into six quatrains, and the rhyme of each stanza could be defined as a kind of abab.
The author places himself in his childhood, and gives us his own point of view about the personal relation that he had with his father, a part from describing the different actions that this man did on the farm. This is autobiographical, as we can read in the following lines: His father owned and worked a small farm of some fifty acres in County Derry in Northern Ireland (Nobel Web, The Swedish Academy).
There is also a description of the physical conditions of the father in the very beginning of the poem, and the reader is also informed about this mans works as a farmer. The man is described as a very hard-working person and a good worker doing his job. The poem does not give us details about the environment, so it focuses on the different actions carried out by the man.
The second stanza starts with the words An expert, and then there is a pause marked by a full stop. Saying this brief expression, the author emphasizes again the carefulness and accuracy that his father had when he was working.
In this quatrain and in the third one we find words generally used in the rural argot: shafts (l. 3), wing (l. 5), sock (l. 6), headrig (l.8). (Following Seamus Heaney\'s \"Follower\"; John Boly): We can also read other words that show us again the precision that is needed: narrowed and angled (l.11).
In the fouth stanza the author shows us how his father also played with him: Sometimes he rode me on his back/
Dipping and rising to his plod (l. 15 & 16).
Furthermore, in the fifth stanza there is a will of the child of being as his father in the future, but he accepts that he will never be the same, and presents himself in the last stanza as an useless boy: I was a nuisance, tripping, falling, /Yapping always (l. 22 & 23).
During the last three verses the poet returns to the present time and he says that nowadays his father is who is stumbling because of his age. With the word Behind used by Seamus Heaney in the last verse, he obliges us to go back to the beginning of the poem and to remember what he lived in his childhood with his father.
The title refers to the admiration that the poet feels for his father and it also represents the desire of being like him in a future. I think that throughout the entire poem we can also understand the origins of the poets family. He says it, as we are told by John Boly (Following Seamus Heaney\'s \"Follower\"; John Boly): The poet has commented on the fact that his parentage thus contains both the Ireland of the cattle-herding Gaelic past and the Ulster of the Industrial Revolution.
John Boly also talks about the language used by Seamus Heaneys parents and how it affected his education: His father was notably sparing of talk and his mother notably ready to speak out, a circumstance which Seamus Heaney believes to have been fundamental to the quarrel with himself out of which his poetry arises (Nobel Web, The Swedish Academy).
To continue talking about languages, Heaney was taught Latin and Irish at St. Columb\'s College, and these languages, together with the Anglo-Saxon which he would study while being a student of Queen\'s University in Belfast, were determining factors in the developments which marked his progress as a poet (Nobel Web, The Swedish Academy). The first verses he wrote when he was a young teacher in Belfast in the early 1960s are linguistically tuned to the Anglo-Saxon note in English. The Gaelic heritage has always been part of his larger keyboard of reference and remains culturally and politically central to the poet and his work (Nobel Web, The Swedish Academy).

| Posted on 2012-11-24 | by a guest


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Follower describes mostly Heaneys childhood and how much he idolised his father. The poem is about how Heaney wanted to be like his father when he was younger, but he could never do what his father done right and was always making mistakes. When Heaney was a young child, he really wanted to carry on the family traditions of farming and as I have said before, how he was always trying hard to be like his father was, but never quite succeeded. At the end it also tells the reader about how Heaneys father was an old man, and that Heaney looked after him. I think it is called Follower, because at the start it describes how he followed his father, and then at the end the roles have reversed and now his father is following him.

| Posted on 2012-03-14 | by a guest


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ding dong chong song jong pong hong tong rong zong cong

| Posted on 2011-07-18 | by a guest


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This poem is very much about exactness
In first half, descriptions about his father ploughing, everything points towards how expert he was at this, and how exact and precise it was
Makes it really specific, gives it detail which really makes it live
As always in Heaney, language is charged with energy, really rich texture to the words
every syllable feels weighted and carefully put into place and you really can’t knock a syllable out
he uses very gritty, technical words (the wing, the bright steel- pointed sock, the headrig)
you almost feel that if you were to follow these instructions, you too would be able to follow in the footsteps of this father who really knew how to plough the land
father like a ship in first line, almost mythical, sailing off in front of him
metaphor for poetry- exactness of ploughing, wanting to really get it perfect
rich imagery- the sod rolled over without breaking
a, b, a, b rhyming pattern mirrors perfectly the action of ploughing in parallel lines
violent enjambment as we come round the headrig, which mirrors the effort in moving smoothly put into ploughing (‘without breaking’ is a sort of forewarning that you’ll have to continue with taking breath)
key subject poem deals with is inversion of relationship/ authority/ dependency between father and son
another metaphor lurking under words of poem- child hounding father (where yapping comes into play), just as in some sense the father will later on come to hound the boy
ambiguity in end- is father literally stumbling behind (an old man), or is he a memory, or is the father old and alive but the memory of the past will not go away
father is a god- like figure/ mythical figure in Heaney’s life, poem about falling of this god
boy greatly admires his father, follows him around all the time when he’s working, as they grow older the roles are reversed in their relationship; it’s his father who follows him
“An expert.”- short and blunt, helps to emphasize accuracy and determination with which father works
“I wanted to grow up and plough”- clearly shows admiration for his father, if he wanted to grow up to be just like him
“shadow”- this word in itself suggests boy is following his father, and wants to be like him in a physical sense too, as his father is tall and strong
Despite the fact that this is not romantic poetry and the word love is never used in the poem, this is what the poem is clearly about- it represents the relationship between the father and the son
Poem seems like a personal experience to Heaney but could also relate to anyone who respects and admires their own hero, and is a “follower” to them
An analysis of \"Follower\" by Seamus Heaney \"Follower\" is a poem which relates back to Seamus Heaney\'s past memories which he had experienced when he was at a younger age, they are memories of him and his father and their relationship.
From the poem we can interpret that he was brought up on a potato farm and in many of his other poems he relates to this, this suggests that perhaps he enjoyed farming or perhaps he is expressing the family\'s traditions.
\"Follower\" is a poem which strongly relates to Heaney\'s past life.
The poem also suggests the theme of growth, at the beginning of the poem he is a young boy, who looks up to his father.
However, by the end of the poem it is his father who needs help from his son.
The first three stanzas of the poem are written in the third person. “Follower” by Seamus Heaney is a thought-provoking poem.
It raises issues such as childhood, growing up and old age.
Heaney adds power to his consideration of these issues by his use of effective language. Each of these issues are vividly developed throughout the poem.
Heaney introduces the theme of childhood by stressing the admiration that he had shown towards his father.
Growing up is conveyed when Heaney states that he wants to be exactly like his father- a skilled farm owner.
Old age is developed in the final stanza of the poem when the poet’s father has grown old and become feeble. The first line of the poem is “My father worked with a horse and plough”, this is an effective opening line. The poet’s use of the word ‘my’ instantly indicates that he is talking about himself. Moreover, the use of this word stresses the importance of the personal experience that is discussed throughout the poem. It creates emotion and therefore makes the poem easier to relate to as it is a realistic experience. Heaney discusses childhood by insisting that he was a nuisance. He writes, “I stumbled in his hob-nailed wake”.
This shows that he was much smaller and weaker than his father and followed him around the farm stumbling and falling.
Heaney’s use of the word ‘hob-nailed’ suggests that his father wore heavy boots, reinforcing the image of a strong, well built man.
As a child, Heaney admired his father a great deal.
An effective simile that conveys the father’s strength is “His shoulders globed like a full sail strung between the shafts and furrows”.
Here, the simile compares the father’s shoulder muscles to the shape of a fully strung sail.
By writing “the horses strained at his clicking tongue” Heaney indicates that the horses understood and obeyed his father, even when he made the slightest noise.
The father’s influence is also incorporated in the second stanza when Heaney writes, “At the headrig, with a single pluck of reins, the sweating team turned round and back into the land”.
This emphasises the control that his father had over the horses also, but, moreover is a run on line, enjambment.
I find this aspect of the line very effective as it suggests the continuous movement of the working horses.
According to Heaney’s description of his father he is indeed very skilled at his job.
Heaney opens the second stanza with a simple but powerful phrase, “An expert”.
I find this phrase effective as it stresses how skilled his father was using simple language.
Another phrase in the second stanza that implies that his father was very skilled is “The sod rolled over without breaking”.
This quality would obviously require a great deal of expertise. Heaney stresses how much of an expert his father was which shows that he admired him a lot.
The fifth stanza is dedicated to the theme of growing-up. Heaney discusses the strong admiration of the father by stating that he hopes to become a skilled farmer like his father.
The phrase “I want to grow up and plough, to close one eye and stiffen my arm” suggests that Heaney’s admiration has become stronger as he has become older and now he wishes to be exactly like his father.
The use of the word ‘I’ at the beginning of stanza’s four, five and six emphasises the personal tone of the poem.
Furthermore, Heaney emphasises the qualities acquired by his father and states that he hopes to follow in his example.
The sixth stanza deals with the theme of old age.
The tone of this stanza suddenly changes to annoyance and his childhood memories are replaced by unpleasant feelings shown towards his father.
The language also changes, it is simple. The climax of the poem shows a complete role reversal between Heaney and his father.
Heaney writes “I was a nuisance, tripping, falling, yapping always.”
This suggests the childish behaviour of a young child.
His father could always find time for his son.
This aspect of the stanza introduces a tone of guilt as Heaney also writes “But today it is my father who keeps stumbling behind me and will not go away”.
Heaney now sees his father as a burden; he cannot tolerate his father who was prepared to withstand his childish behaviour when he was young.
I think that Heaney’s attitude towards his father has certainly altered, mainly due to the inconveniences of old age and the burdens they have caused.
In conclusion “Follower” by Seamus Hea

| Posted on 2011-03-13 | by a guest


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globed like a full sail strung would probably represent a Greek Titan, Atlas, who carried the world on his shoulders

| Posted on 2010-09-16 | by a guest


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This is a beautiful, economical and elegant poem about the poet's relation to his father. The poem turns on a central metaphor that links the father's plough and the pen with which the poet ploughs the page before him and with it the field of poetry. The lines that make up the poem are like the furrows left by his father's plough. It is a metaphor for writing. This central metaphor runs throughout the poem, but it is rendered most explicit in the effect of enjambment in lines 8-10. The last line of stanza two ends with the command for the horses to turn; with this command the line of verse comes to an end and turns back to start the next line. This effect is rendered even more explicit at the end of the first line of the third stanza where the effect of enjambment again embodies this link between pen and plough: "turned around/ And back into the land".
In the poem the poet speaks of his admiration for his father as a child and how he identified with the virile trait of the father embodied in his command of the plough and in his ploughing of the field. As a child the poet indicates that he wanted to be just like his father and learn to plough like him. But by the end of the poem we realise that this identification with this trait of the father has supported him in another way, and has been transformed into his wish to be a writer. At the end of the poem the son has become a successful writer. It is he who is now the expert at his craft. But he is still troubled by his relation to his father who stumbles after him. How? Perhaps it is simply because, preocuppied with his relation to his father, the poet has written a poem about him and so sees him stumbling in the furrows left by his pen as he ploughs the page and with it the field of poetry. Thus while the son followed in the wake of the father's plough at the beginning of the poem, at the end this role is reversed - the son not able to leave the father behind because it is the trait of the father's ploughing that supports his own craft. The two remain bound together in the metaphor of the pen-plough.

| Posted on 2010-02-04 | by a guest


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I believe this poem is a representation of Heaney changing from a career (like his father) in agriculture to the transition into poetry. The last line implies how his father is now the one who doesn't understand his poetry. Looking in this view the active verbs of 'tripping, falling' can be seen as his sturggle to obtain the skills in the field of his fathers work. The verbs also contrats to his fathers skill displayes by 'An expert.' The short line emphasises the expertese.

| Posted on 2009-08-03 | by a guest


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I think that the end stanza indicates that heaney's dad is following him as a ghost. I also feel that heaney feels that he will never be able to live up to his dad.

| Posted on 2009-07-09 | by a guest


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Follower by Sheamus Heaney is a powerful poem, again about the young Heaney following his father around in admiration of his skill on the farm and such. Eventually he steps out of his fathers shadow and feels as if his father has become the one following him.
Overall, it's another poem where Heaney talks of his father, suggesting that his father had a big impact on his life.

| Posted on 2008-06-26 | by a guest




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