• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Explore Heaney's themes and poetic technique in 'Digging' and 'Follower'.

Extracts from this document...


Explore Heaney's themes and poetic technique in 'Digging' and 'Follower'. In this essay I'm going to explain the themes and poetic technique in the poems 'Follower' and 'Digging', both written by Seamus Heaney. They're both taken from the book 'Death of a Naturalist' (1966) The poem 'Follower' begins with an image of Heaney's father working in the field 'with a horse-plough'. The description: His shoulders globed like a full sail strung Between the shafts and the furrow. Is very clever, as it is elegant and powerful. It's elegant because of the image of his father 'like a full sail' whilst the plough is his ship. It conjures pictures of great ships that would have been sailed by Sir Farces Drake would sail across the sea, these ships were beautiful and moved slowly and gracefully - this is the image given of Heaney's father. It's a powerful image because of the strength of the "ship" and his 'globed shoulders'. The word globe is associated with the world, perhaps when Heaney was younger his father was the world to him, and he thought that his father in a sense held the world on his shoulders. This is the constant theme through the larger majority of 'Digging' - Heaney's admiration for his father. ...read more.


The second half of this verse brings a sudden role reversal 'It's now my father who keeps stumbling/Behind me, and will not go away.' The pedestal is ripped as it were from beneath the fathers feet. I believe that this is because Heaney is older now, his father has also aged and cannot keep up with the mod cons of today's society, and also because of the father's age he's not so strong and needs protection from the son. I find the fact that we never see the father as anything other than a farmer really interesting, because he's only a 3D character. This may be a symbol of Heaney's realisation that it fascinated and awed him as a child that his father was so good, but now he realises that that is all his father was good at and it doesn't compare to other people's accomplishments. This mirrors any child's perception of their father as they grow up, when they grow up their father is their world and they think he's amazing, but when they grow up, although they love their father they realize that their father isn't as big and as amazing as they had imagined. ...read more.


Whilst the end of the rhythm signifies the end of the cycle, these last few lines tie in with the first few, and give the poem a sense of completion and a rounded quality. It also confirms that he thinks that his writing is as powerful as a gun, if we compare it to the first couplet, maybe he thinks his contribution to the war is in his writing. There are many themes in this poem. Similar to 'Follower' it has the themes of, nature, farming, admiration and inadequacy. It also has the theme of duty, the duty to keep the family tradition of digging, the theme guilt ties in to this theme because the poet felt guilt for not accepting his duty for keeping the family tradition. War is a theme, a reference to the war in Northern Ireland is in the first couplet by referring to the gun, and later on in the poem the word 'shaft' has a double meaning - part of the plough and also part of a gun. The rhythm also gives the hint of the theme 'continuing', because Heaney had to break the cycle by breaking the first couplet in the last verse. English - Seamus Heaney Victoria Burton 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Seamus Heaney section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Seamus Heaney essays

  1. Seamus Heaney uses various ways to explore the theme of family life in his ...

    This puts emphasis oh the words and gives them a clean cut sound, almost like a reflection of his father who was busy and clean cut in his ways. He further acknowledges his fathers skill when he describes the "sod rolled over", "sod" and "over" are assonate words that put

  2. GCSE English Seamus Heaney - 'At a Potato Digging', 'Follower', 'Death ...

    it was necessary for his father to pick him up and carry him on his back. Heaney recalls how, at this time in his life, his only ambition was to follow in his father's footsteps and to be like him.

  1. Looking at the poems in Death of a Naturalist discuss how Heaney use’s language ...

    For instance, he is not deterred by the hard labour suggested by the onomatopoeia of the hard "k" sounds in the line: "We trekked and picked..." In the poem "Digging" Heaney is seeing his father dig, which reminds him of his childhood and how his father dug up potatoes.

  2. At A Potato Digging

    Write as much as you can about Heaney's changing feelings about the land. To begin with, Heaney describes the ground as "the black / Mother", which conveys the idea that the ground is a source of goodness and that it is an essential provider for the people.

  1. culture and the heritage in heaney

    By using commas it brings in a natural pause. It also slows down the poem. An example of this is: "To see his peat-brown head, The mild pods of his eye-lids, His pointed skin cap." He slows it down so every ounce of description is taken in and it created a peaceful mood.

  2. His first collection of poems "Death of a naturalist" was published in 1966 and ...

    A nautical theme also seemed to develop through the poem, which continues the concept of respect he has for his father. To Heaney his father is symbolised as a ship with his globed shoulders "like a full sail strung". As the sailing ship represents a sanctuary over the ocean, in

  1. In his poems 'Follower and Digging' Heaney is thinking about his father. How do ...

    This makes the reader think of a stubborn old man who will not admit he is too old. It is now the frail, old father who cannot keep up with Heaney. This emphasizes that they have swapped places and it is now the father who stumbles along behind Heaney.

  2. Mid-Term Break and Digging

    because usually it would be respect to his elders, the boy shaking their hands, so this is holding the reasons from the reader. The word `Trouble` in the first line of stanza four, which comes across a minor word, but as we've been getting the feeling there's something quite seriously wrong-death?

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work