Seamus Heaney is one of my favorite poets, and he is still alive, which is awesome. He was born in 1939 and was the 1995 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. He’s an Irish poet, though if you never heard of Heaney before, you might have figured that out, not only by his name, but also by his brogue that comes across powerfully in his poetry. I love this poem, “Follower” because the imagery is so vivid, and the way it captures a son’s admiration for his father and the father/son elements of years passing, is both moving and humorous. Also, it’s a different life from my own, so the rustic and earthy essence of it appeals to me.
by Seamus Heaney
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.