Compare And Contrast Seamus Heaney’s Poems ‘Digging’ And ‘Follower’
Compare And Contrast Seamus Heaney’s Poems ‘Digging’ And ‘Follower’

Compare And Contrast Seamus Heaney’s Poems ‘Digging’ And ‘Follower’

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  • Pages: 5 (2402 words)
  • Published: October 18, 2017
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Seamus Heaney’s poems, ‘Digging’ and ‘Follower’ portray to us the strong relationship between the father and son, as Heaney tends to look up to the elders in his family. Both poems create that pastoral atmosphere with the title, ‘Digging’ suggests delving into the past. ‘Follower’ on the other hand gives us an image of the child’s view of farming. The poems suggest Heaney’s father is skilled at manual labour, and therefore someone to be looked up to. The poem ‘Follower’ illustrates the strength and skill, possessed by Heaney’s father. The poem ‘Digging’ suggests the immense skill needed to master working in the countryside.

The rhythm in ‘Digging’ tends to match the digging of the spade; where as in ‘Follower’ it tends to match the size and supremacy of Heaney’s father. Both ‘Digging’ and ‘Follower’ tell us stories, which are similar but yet different. This poem ‘Digging’ is quite similar to ‘Follower’ as it shows how young Heaney looked up to his elders. Heaney sees his grandfather as old, “straining” to dig “flowerbeds”. The poet recalls his father digging “potato drills” and his grandfather digging peat. Heaney knows he can’t match “men like them with a spade,” knowing the pen is mightier for him, and he will dig into the past with it.

Heaney also shows the skill and distinction needed in manual labour. The poet also illustrates to us their sense of work, as the father still digs in his old age, and the grandfather would barely stop to drink, while working. The poem ‘Follower’ shows the skill needed for rural life includin

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g being an “expert,” “without breaking. ” This shows us what an accomplished farmer Heaney’s father is. It also depicts rural life, by illustrating how much skill goes into a seemingly ordinary task such as ploughing a field. “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. The function of the looser structure in ‘Digging’ compared to ‘Follower’ is the fact it shows us the intricate art needed for craftsmanship, where as in ‘Digging’ it isn’t much of the case, making the structure appropriate for ‘Digging. ‘ There is rhyme present in both poems but it is more frequent and powerful in ‘Follower’ than ‘Digging’.

Here’s the rhyme in ‘Digging’, “thumb / gun // spade / man,” and in ‘Follower’, “round / eye / ground / exactly. ” In ‘Digging’, the first two stanzas consist of powerful rhyme but for the rest of the poem it simply dies out. Some of the rhyme words used are, “sound / ground / down, suggesting strong rhyme. Generally the rhyming scheme used in ‘Follower’ is ABAB meaning the first line rhymes with the third. In ‘Digging’ the rhyming scheme in the beginning is AA BBB, but then the rhyme dies out since the rest of the poem doesn’t fully rhyme.

Both ‘Follower’ and ‘Digging’ tend to use more o

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half rhyme rather than full rhyme, which does not make it intrusively obvious. ‘Digging’ has more of an irregular structure than that of ‘Follower’ as it sticks to an irregular half rhyme scheme. The rhyme in both poems tends to give a sense of rhythm to the poem. In other words it also emphasises the rhyme words establishing the connection between the rhyme words. Heaney uses more rhyme in Follower than in ‘Digging’ which gives a natural feeling to the poem and also helps in emphasising the father’s skill and precise craftsmanship.

In ‘Digging’ and ‘Follower’ Heaney tends to use a great deal of stresses. In ‘Digging’ he tends to use more of iambic pentameter, which is a rising rhythm. Where as in ‘Follower’ he tends to use roughly the same amount of stresses in each line. I can arise to a conclusion of that Heaney uses a very irregular structure in ‘Digging’ due to the inconstancy of the stresses in each line. The irregular structure in ‘Digging’ helps the poet imitate his childhood and by the use of simple language along with the irregular structure.

The regular structure of ‘Follower’ portrays to us the perfect craftsmanship of Heaney’s father. The stresses in both poems tend help portray the immense skill and precise craftsmen needed for digging or ploughing. These stresses in ‘Digging’ helps the poem to match the rhythm of the digging of the spade. The stresses in ‘Follower helps the poem to stay in rhythm of the father’s strength and skill. There are a variety of familiar poetic techniques used by Heaney in ‘Digging’ and ‘Follower. ‘ In ‘Digging’, Heaney does use a great deal of onomatopoeia like, “rasping, gravelly, sloppily, squelch, slap.

There is a great variety of onomatopoeia used in ‘Follower’ like, “clicking, pluck, yapping,” but there is more used in ‘Digging’ rather than Follower. Heaney decides to use a lot of onomatopoeia to make his poem stand out as well as making it seem more alive and vivid. Both ‘Digging’ and ‘Follower’ consist of simple language. Here are some examples from ‘Digging’, “my grandfather cut more turf in a day,” and this is from ‘Follower’, “I wanted to grow up and plough. ” This suggests a simplicity of language used by Heaney in both poems. Heaney tends to use simple language as there are a series of simple activities in the two poems.

The context of the two poems is of childhood, which makes the simple language appropriate because it goes with the atmosphere of childhood, where children do not understand very complex language. Both poems ‘Digging’ and ‘Follower’ also use a lot of technical and monosyllabic terms. In ‘Digging’ the description of digging Heaney gives consists of some technical terms such as, “lug, shaft. ” Some of the monosyllabic terms Heaney uses are, “bog, sods, curt cuts. ” Some technical terms used in ‘Follower’ are, “hob-nailed, steel-pointed sock, mapping furrow,” and some monosyllabic terms are, “eye, wing, arm.

Another observation is that some of the vocabulary used in ‘Digging’ is also used in ‘Follower’. These words from ‘Digging’, “shaft, sods, straining,” are used in ‘Follower’ as, “shafts, sod, strained.

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