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Compare how attitudes towards other people are shown in: Follower (Seamus Heaney), Catrin (Gillian Clarke), The Song of The Old Mother (William Butler Yeats) and, lastly, On My 1st Sonne (Ben Johnson).

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Question: Compare how attitudes towards other people are shown in: Follower (Seamus Heaney), Catrin (Gillian Clarke), The Song of The Old Mother (William Butler Yeats) and, lastly, On My 1st Sonne (Ben Johnson). The way we act towards others can literally shape our relationships with them. Due to the immense effect our attitudes can have, when they are portrayed in poetry, writers seem to do so using a wide variety of both vivid and subtle techniques. The purpose of this essay is to compare the way it is done on four poems; Follower (Seamus Heaney), Catrin (Gillian Clarke), The Song of The Old Mother (William Butler Yeats) and, finally, On My 1st Sonne (Ben Johnson). A conclusion will also be formed onto which poet does this most successfully. The main relationship being portrayed by Seamus Heaney in 'Follower' is that between a father and son. Traditionally one of the strongest bonds possible, Heaney begins the poem detailing just that. The first two words- 'My father', immediately shows his sense of pride about his paternal parent and following terms such as 'his broad shoulders' portray the son's impression of the dad being a strong character. ...read more.


'The Song of the old Mother' is yet another poem centring around a maternal instinct; however, the message being portrayed is not one of conflict-but one of acceptance. 'I kneel and blow', 'I must scrub, and bake and sweep.' Even this simple use of the word 'and' clearly states to the reader the sheer amount of physical duty this seemingly frail 'old mother' has to do. And what is her attitude to the 'young' who, while she is working her bones to the ground 'lie long and dream in their bed'...love. It seems that Butler Yeats is trying to portray that, while she may not enjoy working for her children, she feels that, while she is their mother, it is her duty. Her attitude towards them does not change because of this injustice; she just accepts it as one of her jobs as a mother. It is the structure of the poem that really highlights this, as the use of the rhyming couplets (i.e. 'blow', 'glow', 'sweep' 'peep.') suggests a pattern. This is a direct window into the mindset of the woman-she views a mother working for her children a tradition-and something that, like the rhyme in the poem, will not change. ...read more.


shows Johnson realises it. 5 stanzas in the poem detail the son 'following' the father, yet only 1 shows the father 'following' the son. Is the son really fair in his refusal to support a man who has supported him for so long? None of the attitudes towards other people are completely positive or negative in any of the 4 poems studied. From a man unjustly annoyed at the realisation he will have to support a man who supported him for so long, to a mother longing for control over the 'defiant glare' of her daughter-all of these poets portrayed a main attitude coming from one character to another, but then chose to insert a hidden one too. Enjambment proved to be a useful technique to these poets, as did language and structure-but who do I feel did the best job in portraying these attitudes? Human beings are fickle characters and our attitudes towards others often change, and it is this reason why Seamus Heaney was undeniably most successful in his portrayal of varying attitudes. You see, he was the only one who showed a transition of feelings and attitudes. From beginning describing 'An expert', he ends detailing a man who 'will not go away.' The fickleness of his character is therefore vividly explored-fuelling his success. ...read more.

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