Seamus Heaney: Follower

(742 words)

Published in Seamus Heaney’s debut collection Death of a Naturalist (1966), “Follower” recounts the poet’s early admiration for his father tilling the soil in rural Ireland and his subsequent coming to terms with the father’s declining powers in old age. The poem bears witness to Heaney’s Antaeus-like love of the earth: the poems in this collection especially derive their strength from Heaney’s strong connection to rural Ireland.

The poem centres on the theme of lineage: the speaker expresses his desire to imitate the father, but registers in the late turning point, which occurs in the very last verse, the fact that their roles have been reversed by time. As a child he “stumbled” in his father’s steps; w…

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Martiny, Erik. "Follower". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 12 March 2013
[, accessed 25 September 2016.]