Follower - Miss Thompson Media

Follower - Miss Thompson Media

Follower Seamus Heaney 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. 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. An expert. He would set the wing And fit the bright steel-pointed sock. The sod rolled over without breaking. 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 stumbling

Behind me, and will not go away. 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. Close Reading Questions Provide full answers backed up with quotations Describe the speaker and who is he speaking about? What is the tense and what does this show? What is the speaker describing? How does the speaker feel about his father? What does the title tell us? Describe the form of poem used, the structure of stanzas, lines, rhyme scheme. Any repetition, parallels or other patterns? How might the structure here represent the action of ploughing? How might it represent the father?

Explain the comparison suggested by the simile used in stanza 1. What other language techniques and examples show that the speaker admires his father? In the final stanza, how has the father now become like the speaker? How is the tone of voice in the final stanza different from the rest of the poem? What does the choice of verbs show? (narrowed angled mapping) What choice of verbs are used to describe the speaker? Now compare these to the description of the father. Identify the imagery used by the poet and discuss their meanings. Why do you think Heaney has written this poem? Themes Group work Compare and discuss your responses to the Close

Reading Questions. Eg. I thought the simile showed, what did you think? Add new ideas to your own answers. Next As a group, come to a consensus on 3 key themes explored by Heaney in this poem. Provide evidence from the text for each theme and a reasonable explanation. Now, put them in what you think is their order of priority Biography & Background Heaney was born on 13th. April 1939, the eldest of nine children at the family farm called Mossbawn in the Townland of Tamniarn near Castledawson, Northern Ireland, about thirty

miles north-west of Belfast and two miles north-east of Magherafelt. As well as being a farmer, his father Patrick was also a cattle dealer and was a popular figure at cattle markets and fairs throughout the district. In 1957 Heaney travelled to Belfast to study English Language and Literature at Queen's University of Belfast. He began to write and during his third year at university his poems began to appear in the Queens literary magazines Q and Gorgon. http:// www.seamusheaney.org/seamus_heaney_biog raphy.html Analysis Heaney presents us with a very vivid picture of his father as he appeared to the poet as a young boy. We learn a lot about both the relationship that existed between them and the way Heaney saw his family. The father is, more than anything else, an energetic and skilled farmer. He is 'An expert' with the horse-plough and Heaney as a little boy would simply get in his father's way. The poem is full of admiration for his father's strength and skill with horses. At the end of the poem, however, we are moved to the present day and there is a change in roles; it is now

Heaney's father who has become the child who gets in the way. His awareness of how the passing of time has brought about this change does not lessen the love and respect he feels, however. Heaney remembers when he was a small boy, and in the poem he 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 furrow exactly." The choices of the verbs "Narrowed", "angled" and "Mapping" effectively suggest 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. This idea is repeated in the lines: " I was a nuisance, tripping, falling, Yapping always." These words, especially "Yapping" make us think of the boy as being like a young and excited puppy - enjoying playing at ploughing, but of no practical help. In fact, he was a hindrance to a busy farmer, but his father tolerates him. Analysis His father's strength and power are also very effectively brought out in the simple, but effective simile: "His shoulders globed like a full sail strung Between the shafts and the furrow." The comparison here suggests a man who spends much of his time out of doors, a man who is a part of nature. The word "globed" also suggests great strength and gives the impression that the father was the whole world to the young boy. It is important to note that his father is not simply strong; his tender love and care for his son are emphasised by the fact that he "rode me on his back/ Dipping and rising to his plod". The sound and rhythm of these lines convey the pleasure young Heaney had in the ride. The poem is written in six stanzas of four lines each. The first four stanzas describe Heaney's admiration for his father and his abilities. The

next five and a half lines SHOW that the poet wanted to grow up to be like his father. However, he feels that he could do no more than get in the way. Then there is a twist in the last two and a half lines: "But today It is my father who keeps stumbling Behind me, and will not go away." All through the poem Heaney uses devices like this to suggest to the reader something about his father. Some lines have a rhythm which suggest the ruggedness of the ploughman and the rhythm of the ploughing. Also, Heaney uses words that do not rhyme exactly, like "sock" and "pluck" ('half-rhyme'). This adds to the 'craggy' description. Heaney is also very careful about how he arranges the words on the page. The second stanza begins with a brief two word statement -"An expert", which, in its emphatic brevity, forces us to take note, and leaves the impression that there is nothing more to add. Even though the word 'love' is never used in the poem, it is obviously the word that best describes the basis of the relationship existing between Heaney and his father. The poem is very much a personal experience, but it has a much wider significance relating to any kind of hero-worship by a 'follower'. Now that he is himself an adult, Heaney acknowledges that the father he hero-worshipped as a young boy has grown old and needs as much tolerance and patience as he himself once showed his son. Compare Chart the similarities and differences between Follower & these poems Follower Praise Song for my Mother Childhood For Heidi with Blue Hair

My Parents Elegy for my Fathers Father Country School A Dream Briefly Seamus Heaney was born in 1939 to a farming family in County Derry, Northern Ireland, and much of his poetry is rooted in Ireland. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995. Heaneys farming background is evident in this poem, as the first five stanzas celebrate the fathers expertise in old-fashioned ploughing with horses. The language constantly points to his skill in controlling the horses and ploughing perfect furrows in the soil, which rolled over without breaking. It is as much an evocation of tradition and direct contact between man and the earth, as it is of the father.

It is the reminiscing narrator who defines his fathers ploughing skills; as a youth he was eager, but stumbled. As the father gives the child a ride on his back while ploughing, the reader senses the patience of the elder man with the nuisance, but also evident is the childs aspiration to grow up and plough. The final stanza reverses the positions and can be interpreted in alternative ways. It could be the elderly, infirm father who now keeps stumbling, or it could be the memory of the now deceased father which consistently shambles through the narrators mind. If the poem is read autobiographically, the ending has extra poignancy, as Seamus Heaney never grew up to plough.

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