Discuss the theme of family, as presented by Heaney in ‘Digging’ and ‘Follower’.
The poems Digging and Follower by Seamus Heaney both are powerful expressions of the poet's admiration and respect for his father.
Heaney strongly stresses his relationship with his father by creating a forceful comparison between himself and his dad and by doing so raises another important issue that is present throughout both poems, the significance of change.
However, despite the depiction of the father in both poems seems quite similar at first glance, it later is evident that there are nevertheless certain differences between the two images created.
Follower and Digging both give a clear account of Heaney's feelings towards his father with particular emphasis on the poet's response to the physical labour of his father. Both poems capture the contrast between past and present, Heaney's life and that of his father and once again highlight the theme of change. The notion of transformation is effectively conveyed in the poems by the display of the father's and also Heaney's journey through life. Both poems create a clear picture of their lives that spans over several years and generations and that effectively condenses the happenings in that time.
‘Digging’ is very much like ‘Follower’, in the sense that it shows how the young Heaney looked up to his elders - in this case both father and grandfather. Seeing his father (now old) “straining” to dig “flowerbeds”, the poet recalls him in his prime, digging “potato drills”. And even earlier, he remembers his grandfather, digging peat. He cannot match “men like them” with a spade, but he sees that the pen is (for him) mightier, and with it he will dig into his past and celebrate them.
Heaney challenges the stereotype of ‘Paddy with a spade.’ The stereotype contains some truth - Irishmen are justifiably well known for digging, but Heaney shows the skill and dignity in their labour. We see also see their sense of the work...