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Follower, By Seamus Heaney – Full Poem And Analysis

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I have picked number 71 from the top 100 Irish poems list and once again it is a familiar appearance on the list, Seamus Heaney. Ironically it was last week’s poem that I randomly picked Seamus Heaney for his poem about Station island. A very descriptive poem as well. 

So what is the poem Follower all about? 

The title of the poem tells of how the young Heaney followed his father while he was ploughing. It is a poem that speaks about relationships, growing old and life. Seamus reflects on his younger life in the final paragraph where he talks about how he was a “nuisance”.

I also found an incredible old video of Seamus Heaney himself reading this poem. You can find it directly under the poem. 


My father worked with a horse-plough,
His shoulders globed like a full sail strung
Between the shafts and the furrow.
The horses 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 hobnailed 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

Seamus Heaney reads “Follower” (from Death of a Naturalist, 1966)


What did you think about the poem Follower? 

I really enjoyed the poem. It has amazing imagery and his words on the video nearly give you chills. gg

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