2Subject & ThemesHeaney as a child following his father literallyand metaphorically.Son’s tribute to his father based on admiration.Awareness that he gets in the way but eager to be in thefields as his father goes about his work.Themes of father/son relationships, frustration,role reversal, old age and change.
3Tone & MoodReflective, remembering childhood and observingthe changes that have taken place.Final stanza – clear aggravation at father –hypocritical?
4The title has dual meanings – the young Heaney follows his father as he ploughs the fields. By the end of the poem his father follows Seamus.Followersimile – the poem opens with an adoring simile – makes us imagine Heaney’s father as a strong, impressively large manMy 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.agricultural terms – the shafts are the sticks that link the plough to the horse. The furrow is the deep line cut in the earth by the plough.presumably used to encourage the horse – shows he is an expert at what he does
5short, powerful statement about his father’s skill – reinforces how good he was technical terms related to the ploughAn expert. He would set the wing And fit the bright-pointed sock. The sod rolled over without breaking. At the headrig, with a single plucksibilance – emphasisesskillful‘headrig’ - the mechanism which ploughs the earth
6enjambment – continuation of meaning from last stanza – the poem has a momentum and flow emphasises this was really hard workOf reins, the sweating team turned round And back into the land. His eye Narrowed and angled at the ground, Mapping the furrow exactly.another example of his expertise – he is skillful and precise in his work
7contrast to his father’s skill – the young Heaney is awkward and clumsy; the tone changes here with ‘I’unusual adjective to describe mud – shows the care and attention of his father’s workI stumbled in his hobnailed wake, Fell sometimes on the polished sod; Sometimes he rode me on his back Dipping and rising to his plod.vivid imagery shows his father was caring and affectionate despite his son’s clumsiness
8longing, melancholy tone – Heaney wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps but was not able to, as revealed in ‘Digging’I wanted to grow up and plough, To close one eye, stiffen my arm. All I ever did was follow In his broad shadow around the farm.half-rhyme – adds to the regretful tone of this line
9list of three verbs – emphasises the trouble he caused I was a nuisance, tripping, falling, Yapping always. But today It is my father who keeps stumbling Behind me, and will not go away.‘but’ – drive-word which changes toneThe poem ends on a bleak tone, at contrast with what has gone before it.‘Not go away’ – sounds harsh and unforgiving, unlike his father who picked him up.
10Quotes to Underline & Explain ‘his shoulders globed like a full sail strung’‘mapping the furrow exactly’‘I stumbled in his hobnailed wake’‘sometimes he rode me on his back’‘I was a nuisance, tripping, falling’‘It is my father who keeps stumbling’
11Viewpoint1st person narration – autobiographicalbased on lived experience of poet.Heaney reflecting on how theirrelationship has changed over time.
12Language & Imagery‘an expert’ – admiration.Animals obey his effortless instructions (‘single pluck’, ‘clicking tongue’)Eager to follow in father’s footsteps – ‘I wanted to grow up and plough’Stanzas laid out like furrows in a field.
13Language & Imagery Nautical imagery. Lexis specific to farming. ‘Will not go away’ – frustrated tone, angry at father.