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

Seamus Heaney uses various ways to explore the theme of family life in his poems. The poems, 'digging' and 'follower' specifically explore this theme, 'Digging' is about Heaney's search for his family history.

Extracts from this document...


Seamus Heaney uses various ways to explore the theme of family life in his poems. The poems, 'digging' and 'follower' specifically explore this theme, 'Digging' is about Heaney's search for his family history, and he seems to be digging into the past for old memories and his ancestral roots and is also about the admiration he has for his ancestors. 'Follower' on the other hand is about the roles in his family and the relationship between his father and him and his disappointment at not being able to possess the same skills as him. Heaney shows a great deal of admiration for his father and grandfather's skill. This is shown in the way Heaney describes them and their vocation. Heaney physically uses words that make his ancestors seem very powerful, In "follower" he begins the poem by stating "my father worked with a horse plough" this immediately shows his appreciation for his fathers ability to do physical work, using a horse plough is very physically demanding and by starting with this line he sets the theme and tone of the rest of the poem. Also the strong "k" sound in "worked" emphasises the word making it seem more physically demanding. ...read more.


In digging Heaney uses an onomatopoeic word "rasping "to describe the action of his father digging in the past. Alliteration in the next line "spade sinks, " puts emphasis on the more physical act of the spade being raised to dig, almost making Heaney's father seem tireless. The alliteration in "gravely ground" makes Heaney seem quite young as his vocabulary is not sophisticated but he still makes descriptions vivid. Another form of the admiration Heaney has is when is says "bends low comes up twenty years away" and "Stooping in rhythm" suggests that Heaney's father was able to stand tiring labour for twenty years. Heaney shows further admiration when he describes the process of "digging " in a professional way, almost like he was giving instructions instead of describing his father "The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft Against the inside knee was levered firmly" This shows how perfect and exact the movements of his fathers were and how Heaney was so proud of him. The words "nicking " and "slicing" are assonate while "curt" and "cuts" are onomatopoeic and Heaney uses them to describe with pride how precise the work of a farmer is. ...read more.


Heaney does not follow his father's generation, instead he decides to become a poet, something he constantly uses to contrast him and his ancestors. In Digging he writes, "between my finger and my thumb the squat pen rests; snug as a gun" the "snug as a gun" is a form of assonance, this emphasises these words making it seem both that he feels comfortable with a pen in his hand and it hints at the violence and unrest, prevalent in Irish History. This is a contrast with his father who was a farmer. Heaney says "But I've no spade to follow men like them", here he may be feeling a sense of failure for not being as good a farmer as his ancestors, however, he shows pride in his ability as a poet when he says "I'll dig with it". Also in the last stanza of digging Heaney writes "Between my ....dig with it", This seems to indicate that Heaney has decided his profession is that of a poets, even though he has a great respect for his ancestors. The line "I'll dig will it " seems to suggest its his weapon of choice. Discuss Seamus Heaney's relationship with members of his family in "digging" and "follower" Shubhagi Kitchloo 11G ...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. Marked by a teacher

    Seamus Heaney's poems explore the loss of childhood and the cruel awakening into the ...

    4 star(s)

    In my opinion "Blackberry Picking" is very effective in terms of language and tone. It delivers an important message. Although it is difficult to understand at first, it is an amazingly descriptive poem, and demonstrates the harsh reality of adult life.

  2. Peer reviewed

    How does Heaney explore the issues of background and identity in his early poems, ...

    4 star(s)

    The poet recreates the memory and gives it a fresh-coat of paint using vivid, tactile, aural description.

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

    Language is used to create a sense of menace that comes to the surface as the poem progresses. The sound of the frogs is like a 'threat' and there is a simile of the frogs being like 'mud grenades'.

  2. Critical Analysis of Poems by Seamus Heaney

    This reference to Bluebeard may simply relate to his love of nature and blackberries. Although Heaney knows that the berries he picks will rot, he is still driven to pick them, just as Bluebeards wives were driven to open the closet.

  1. Seamus Heaney has Vivid Memories of his Childhood. Analyse Two Poems That Reflect Heaney's ...

    This means his clothes are ripped and dirty from all the running behind his father he's been doing. Another nautical reference is used on the last line: 'Dipping and rising' This could be describing the movement of a ship. As many of the nautical references are made about his fathers'

  2. Compare And Contrast Seamus Heaney's Poems 'Digging' And 'Follower'.

    "The sod rolled over without breaking" does not only illustrate the skill needed, but the intrinsic beauty of the task as well. 'Digging' and 'Follower' differ in their structures as 'Digging' consists of a looser structure than 'Follower'. The first stanza consists of two lines, the second of three lines and the third of four lines.

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

    This also tells the reader that Heaney was like a small dog following his master. Heaney informs us of how he views their relationship to have changed in the lines, 'it is my father who keeps stumbling, behind me and will not go away.'

  2. What are the Themes/ Preoccupations of Heaney's Poetry and how does he explore them ...

    'Slimed out the water and My throat sickened so quickly that I turned down the path in cold sweat' He finally changes and manages to conquer his fears represented by the metaphor of Heaney staring the rat out 'I stared him out' In the eighth and ninth stanzas you can

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