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Compare and contrast Childhood by John Clare and Follower by Seamus Heaney

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Introduction

Compare and contrast "Childhood" by John Clare and "Follower" by Seamus Heaney. John Clare was born in 1793 and died in 1864. He was born in the countryside and remained a countryman all his life. He was a son of a labourer, his mother was illiterate and his father could barely read or write. His family were desperately poor and he never travelled far from home. His poem Childhood is autobiographical and reminiscent on his childhood memories. His first anthology was called "Poems descriptive of rural life and scenery" and it was very well received but later anthologies weren't as enthusiastically received. Seamus Heaney was born on the 13th April 1939 in Bellaghy, South Derry. He was the oldest of nine children and grew up on a farm. He studied English at Queens and went on to teach in Belfast. He had a distinguished academic career; his first anthology was called "Death of a Naturalist". He went on to lecture at Queens and in 1973 he left Belfast to live in Co. Wicklow. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. Both poets show their love for the countryside in these poems. Although there are similarities between these poets there are many differences. Heaney was Irish and Clare was English; Heaney had a good education but Clare didn't, Heaney travelled far but Clare didn't. ...read more.

Middle

In the first line we can see that the tone is very affectionate, it is a childlike tone and it shows an excitement. " O dear to us ever the scenes of our childhood, the green spots we played in, the school where we met". The detail in the first stanza tells us he is familiar with these places even in adult life. The use of first person is good because it makes it personal. The plural also draws the reader in because it makes the reader feel part of the poem. In the first three stanzas he writes about places, scenes and nature but in the second three he looks at his past time and occupation of early days. The title of the poem "Follower" has many different meanings, one possibility is that the father follows the horses, another one is he is following his father and another is that once Heaney was the follower now it is his father who follows. Heaney has written this poem using simple language, he used good structure and the language is more economical than Clare's. He wrote this poem in regular form in quatrains of alternate rhyme. This poem explores the relationship Heaney has with his father; it is a poem of recollection of the skills of a by gone age. In the first stanza we can see that Heaney is proud of his father's skill and he recognises that it was a skill, he shows us he respect and admiration for his father yet he decides not to follow him. ...read more.

Conclusion

Rhyme is alternate in this poem and there is regular rhythm, especially in the first three verses. The rhythm and rhyme is in keeping with skill, great control and confidence. In the last stanza it is important to realise that time has passed and so much has changed. It is also important to note the change in tone from past to present tense and that his father is now old. There is also a sense of impatience and irritation with the last phrase "will not go away". This means different things to different people. It could mean that old people are sometimes a nuisance and people get impatient with them. It is also important to remember that Heaney chose another way of life that took him away from his roots, and the passage of time has distanced him from his father. My conclusion is that Clare used good language to recall his childhood, but I don't think that it was well structured. Heaney used good language and good structure to express his childhood. I think that Heaney's poem was better because of these reasons. I think that it is easier to read and it can be identified with. It is based on his childhood and he is following his parent, which we all do when we were children. We will all have to face the day when we will become the carers, not our parents. Daniel Wilson ...read more.

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