I identified strongly with this poem from the first time I heard it spoken. Much like the follower that was Seamus in his childhood, I followed behind my father and grandfather as they worked cattle and handled ranch duties ... mimicking, getting under foot and learning, growing, as I did.

And now ... in the silver times, my father is slowing, jabbering on, following my lead ... sometimes: 

Follower


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.

-- Seamus Heaney

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Tags: Literature, Poetry, Seamus Heaney

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