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Poetry Comparison - 'Follower' and 'The Early Purges' by Seamus Heaney.

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Poetry Comparison The two peaces of poetry I have studied by Seamus Heaney include 'Follower' and 'The Early Purges'. Heaney's poems both relate back to his younger, adolescent life. In the poem 'Early purges', he describes young kittens being drowned on the farm. His maturity is shown when he says with perception, "And now, when shrill pups are prodded to drown, I just shrug, ' Bloody pups' ". But we are shown that he is still careless now, as well in a casual way by saying "I just shrug". He is also unsympathetic, and justifies his actions like Dan. He is now older, looking back and changed. The language used by Heaney also expresses the fact that little was thought of these so-called nuisances. He says they are 'slung' and Dan Taggart describes them as 'scraggy wee shits'. This shows how unsympathetic he was and how the kittens needn't be cared about. Seamus Heaney also tries to describe the habitual drowning of small kittens. Again, he tries to use language to appeal more and give us a better personal picture of events. For instance, when describing the kittens, just after their death, he quite brightly says, 'Like wet gloves they bobbed and shone till he sluiced them out on the dunghill, glossy and dead'. Glossy and dead are two contrasting words - 'glossy' is a healthy appearance, but its only because the water drowned the kittens, where the word 'death' comes in. ...read more.


I think that the son is trying to portray this, so he has used those words to describe the situation. The next line says, "The horses strained at his clicking tongue". These great beasts straining with effort to the command of their masters with the smallest effort, is a great one. The writer has used a comparison between big and small to create an image of this grand master who controls all he does. The next verse starts with a powerful sentence of admiration. It says, "An expert. He would set the wing and fit the bright steel pointed sock." So here, delicate tasks are combined with powerful ones and there is a judgment of strength and then a lightness of touch when, "The sod rolled over without breaking. At the headrig, with a single pluck", is mentioned. "Of reins, the sweating team turned around and back into the land." This shows that this great figure that we have seen is the boss and sets them back into the land to do more hard work. "His eye Narrowed and angled at the ground, mapping the furrow exactly." This tells us that he is very careful and precise. In this fourth stanza, we can see the images in the lines, such as "stumbled in his hob-nailed wake", which give us an idea of the life in the country, where the children tend to grow up and follow in their father's footsteps. ...read more.


strong bonds that exist between them, he is not sent off to a retirement home for example, but kept as a family member. This poem has themes about the relationship between father and son in the country and especially on farms. In "The Early Purges", country life is seen here through the eyes of the young Heaney as fierce and unfair on the animals, "Dan Taggart pitched them... into a bucket". However, the words that Heaney uses are quite clever, because we do not necessarily side with Heaney. The arguments put up by Dan Taggart, such as "Sure isn't it better for them now?" are seen to be realistic later on in the poem when Heaney says, "It makes sense". The images which he uses, however, encourage us to sympathise with him, such as "Suddenly frightened, for days I sadly hung round the yard" where we picture a small boy frightened at the power of adults over the poor helpless animals. This poem again, like "Follower" shows that life in the country can be very difficult, especially if you have to kill small animals, but if you work hard, then the farm will run better. Both poems have main themes, and they are very similar to eachother. It is all about the hard work involved in running a farm, the relationship between the father and son, and the expectation that profession and skills will be carried on throughout the family. ...read more.

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