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Seamus Heaney & Tony Curtis.

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Seamus Heaney & Tony Curtis On initial reading both the Follower and Strongman are simply about a son's relationship with their father. Whilst this relationship is a central theme of both poems, the poems also explore a range of issues including cultural identity, guilt and social class. This essay will attempt to analyse both poems individually and to also identify areas of conflict and similarity between the poems. The first two words of Follower by Seamus Heaney are "My father" which immediately establishes the poet's emotionally involved relationship with the subject of the poem. In contrast the poet of Strongman writes in the third person for the majority of the poem and it is only really in the last two lines that the poet establishes that he is addressing the poem to the son. Both poems create a vivid picture of physically strong fathers who draw on their physical strength by undertaking skilled manual jobs to support their families "My father worked with a horse-plough" and "A carpenter who could punch nails into wood with a clench fist". Seamus Heaney employs the use of a number of sea images in helping the reader to visualise the immense strength and stamina of his father's body "His shoulders globed like a full sail strung" and "Sometimes he rode me .... ...read more.


Whilst admiration of his father is the dominant emotion in the first half of Follower, it morphs (?) into guilt in the second half. Guilt is a prevailing theme in Seamus Heaney's work. The poem Digging is a particularly relevant example of how the poet contrasts the intellectual and middle-class nature of his work as a poet with the working-class labours of his family. In Digging, Seamus Heaney directly compares his work tool of the pen with the tools employed by his father "Between my finger and my thumb The squat pen rests I'll dig with it" and "By God, the old man could handle a spade". There is a strong sense of yearning and regret as the poet recalls his childhood ambition to "grow up and plough" whilst the reality was that rather that taking over his father's role, as he clearly felt he should have done, all that he "did was follow In his broad shadow round the farm". The poet sill feels that he is living in his father's shadow and that he is unable to stop comparing himself to his father and that in any comparison the poet is a lesser man. ...read more.


The final line of Follower is ambiguous as it can either be interpreted that the poet is comforted by the memory of his father and is relieved that the influence of his father remains with him at all times and "will not go away". Alternatively the persistent memory of his father could be viewed as a burden that troubles the poet. The conclusion of the Strongman focuses on the reversed roles of the father and son. The original role of the father as the provider and central axis in the family has now disappeared to the extent that it is now the son who not only cares for the father physically but also emotionally as he reassures the father with "No trouble - he said, no trouble, Dad". The final likes of the poem encapsulate the indignities of sickness and old age. The use of minimalist, stark language, without the use of unnecessary adjectives heightens the poignancy of the last lines. In conclusion both Follower and Strongman are brief but effective poems that successfully portray father - son relationships. The readers are allowed an intimate snapshot/glimpse into these relationships. Both poems describe the permanent bonds between fathers and sons whilst also effectively addressing how these bonds evolve. (1,202 words) ...read more.

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