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Explore the ways in which Follower and Digging, by Seamus Heaney are looking back. How does the poet communicate his thoughts and feelings by the words and Images he uses?

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Introduction

EXPLORE THE WAYS IN WHICH "FOLLOWER" AND "DIGGING" (BY SEAMUS HEANEY) ARE "LOOKING BACK". HOW DOES THE POET COMMUNICATE HIS THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS BY THE WORDS AND IMAGES HE USES? These two poems, "Follower" and "Digging" are both about sons looking at memories of their fathers. Both fathers work in manual labour. In "Digging" the father works in the garden, and in "Following", the father works with a horse plough. In "Digging", Seamus Heaney looks back at memories of his father and grandfather at work. He starts his voyage into the past after hearing the "rasping" sound of his father digging in the earth. This is one of the many uses of onomatopoeia in this poem to convey images of his father and grandfather at work. His descriptions make us believe that they were destined for this career, "the coarse boot nestled on the lug". Seamus Heaney also uses alliteration like "curt cuts" to give us a clearer image of what it is like to watch his father and grandfather work. In "Follower", the father works with a horse plough. ...read more.

Middle

The second verse of "Digging" talks of the father's "straining rump among the flowerbeds", as his son looks out of the window. Heaney then uses a clever metaphor to take us back into the past, "bends low, comes up twenty years away". This conveys a strong sense of remembrance, and clearly shows the son's state of mind. This verse is similar to the first verse of "Follower" in the way they both depict the strain on the fathers as they work at their manual labour. In both poems, the author portrays a strong sense of the sons' admiration of their fathers. In "Follower" the writer refers to his father as an "expert" and in "Digging" he says, "By God the old man could handle a spade". Both poems are based on the character's admiration for his father, although the endings are quite different. We are led to believe that both fathers respected their equipment and went to considerable lengths to look after it, in order to prolong its life and help them to work efficiently. ...read more.

Conclusion

He used to be "a nuisance, tripping, falling. Yapping always". In a lighthearted way, this helps us understand his respect for his father. However, in the last few lines, we are moved when Heaney says: "................................ But today It is my father who keeps stumbling Behind me, and will not go away." By saying this, we can see that the writer does not resent his father, but feels sad at the inevitability of growing old and the sense of role reversal. He is sad that he is no longer able to admire his father as he did when he was a young boy. The son in "Digging" is sad because he has "no spade to follow men like them". Although he is upset that he does not share his father and grandfather's talent, in the last verse he shows that he accepts his life is different from theirs, and that his expertise is in writing rather than digging. He says, "But I've no spade to follow men like them. Between my finger and my thumb The squat pen rests I'll dig with it." English Coursework Vicky Maberley - S11K 20 November 2001 Page 1 ...read more.

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