PERIPETEIA


                                                        A site for students studying English at 'A' Level/University. Discussion Forums and unique 
                                                  Online Seminars to build confidence, creativity, and individual analytical style.

Forums

Post Reply
Forum Home > Poetry > Close reading Seamus Heaney

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 921

Dr Hughes's seminar will take place here on Weds. evening.

October 5, 2015 at 11:20 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 921

Follower (Death of a Naturalist, London: Faber & Faber, 1966, pp. 24-5)

 


My father worked with a horse-plough,

His shoulders globed like a full sail strung

Between the shafts and the furrow.

The horse strained at his clicking tongue.

 

An expert. He would set the wing

And fit the bright steel-pointed sock.

The sod rolled over without breaking.

At the headrig, with a single pluck

 

Of reins, the sweating team turned round

And back into the land. His eye

Narrowed and angled at the ground,

Mapping the furrow exactly.

 

I stumbled in his hob-nailed wake,

Fell sometimes on the polished sod;

Sometimes he rode me on his back

Dipping and rising to his plod.

 

I wanted to grow up and plough,

To close one eye, stiffen my arm.

All I ever did was follow

In his broad shadow round the farm.

 

I was a nuisance, tripping, falling,

Yapping always. But today

It is my father who keeps stumbling

Behind me, and will not go away.

 



Man And Boy (Seeing Things, London: Faber & Faber, 1991, pp. 14-15)

 


I

 

"Catch the old one first,"

(My father's joke was also old, and heavy

And predictable). "Then the young ones

Will all follow, and Bob's your uncle."

 

On slow bright river evenings, the sweet time

Made him afraid we'd take too much for granted

And so our spirits must be lightly checked.

 

Blessed be down-to-earth! Blessed be highs!

Blessed be the detachment of dumb love

In the broad-backed, low-set man

Who feared debt all his life, but now and then

Could make a splash like the salmon he said was

"As big as a wee pork pig by the sound of it."

 

II

 

In earshot of the pool where the salmon jumped

Back through its own unheard concentric soundwaves

A mower leans forever on his scythe.

 

He has mown himself to the centre of the field

And stands in a final perfect ring

Of sunlit stubble.

 

"Go and tell your father," the mower says

(He said it to my father who told me)

"I have it mowed as clean as a new sixpence."

 

My father is a barefoot boy with news,

Running at eye-level with weeds and stooks

On the afternoon of his own father's death.

 

The open, black half of the half-door waits.

I feel much heat and hurry in the air.

I feel his legs and quick heels far away

 

And strange as my own — when he will piggyback me

At a great height, light-headed and thin-boned,

Like a witless elder rescued from the fire.

 



The Butts (Human Chain, London: Faber & Faber, 2010, pp. 12-13)

 


His suits hung in the wardrobe, broad

And short

And slightly bandy-sleeved,

 

Flattened back

Against themselves,

A bit stand-offish.

 

Stale smoke and oxter-sweat

Came at you in a stirred-up brew

When you reached in,

 

A whole rake of thornproof and blue serge

Swung heavily

Like waterweed disturbed. I sniffed

 

Tonic unfreshness,

Then delved past flap and lining

For the forbidden handfuls,

 

But a kind of empty-handedness

Transpired … Out of suit-cloth

Pressed against my face,

 

Out of those layered stuffs

That surged and gave,

Out of the cold smooth pocket-lining

 

Nothing but chaff cocoons,

A paperiness not know again

Until the last days came

 

And we must learn to each well in beneath

Each meager armpit

To lift and sponge him,

 

One on either side,

Feeling his lightness,

Having to dab and work

 

Closer than anybody liked

But having, for all that,

To keep working.

 

October 6, 2015 at 6:05 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Eamonn Hughes
Member
Posts: 59

Good evening. Anyone ready to discuss Seamus Heaney's poetry?

--
October 7, 2015 at 2:01 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 921

Hi Eamonn, yep there's at least the two of us...

October 7, 2015 at 2:03 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Eamonn Hughes
Member
Posts: 59

Let's start with 'Follower'. Easy question to begin: is this just a poem about Heaney's father?

--
October 7, 2015 at 2:04 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Eamonn Hughes
Member
Posts: 59

Good to see you Neil.

October 7, 2015 at 2:04 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Kirsty
Member
Posts: 38

Hello :)

October 7, 2015 at 2:05 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 921

It's about Heaney too...

October 7, 2015 at 2:06 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Nom de Plume
Member
Posts: 8

Good evening all.

October 7, 2015 at 2:06 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Kirsty
Member
Posts: 38

Towards the end it focues more on Heaney as his father grows older

October 7, 2015 at 2:07 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Eamonn Hughes
Member
Posts: 59

Can I check if anyone is there? 

--
October 7, 2015 at 2:08 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Eamonn Hughes
Member
Posts: 59

Good to see some responses. So if the focus shifts more to Heaney as the poem continues, what are we meant to think about him? 

October 7, 2015 at 2:09 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Nom de Plume
Member
Posts: 8

'Follower' certainly seems to detail both Heaney and his father, with the poem exploring the exchange of the status of being a perceived burden to one-another.

October 7, 2015 at 2:09 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Kirsty
Member
Posts: 38

I did try to say hello!

October 7, 2015 at 2:10 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 921

Eamonn Hughes at October 7, 2015 at 2:08 PM

Can I check if anyone is there? 

Yep, there's a few of us - you should be able to see updates in the forum pages - if not try refreshing the page.

October 7, 2015 at 2:10 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 921

Neil Bowen at October 7, 2015 at 2:06 PM

It's about Heaney too...

Good evening Non-de-Plume (a mysterious moniker) and to Kirsty too

October 7, 2015 at 2:10 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Hope
Member
Posts: 55

Hi!


October 7, 2015 at 2:11 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Eamonn Hughes
Member
Posts: 59

So the relationship of father and son is a burdensome one? Is that all there is to it? 

October 7, 2015 at 2:11 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Kirsty
Member
Posts: 38

Yes, I agree, it feels as though Heaney is remembering in so much detail what his father did for him, in order to be less annoyed at the burden his father is becoming

October 7, 2015 at 2:11 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 921

From the father's POV Heaney's annoying 'yapping always'. 

October 7, 2015 at 2:12 PM Flag Quote & Reply

You must login to post.