Seamus Heaney wrote the two poems ‘Follower’ and ‘Death of naturalist’. Seamus Heaney wrote the observed and recollected fact of his childhood rural life, the speaker of these two poems is young Seamus Heaney. His voice is unique. There is often another meaning underneath his poems. He sees thing in different ways and has a mind of his own. ‘Follower’ this poem is about how young Seamus Heaney always follow his father around in the farm when he is young.
The title ‘follower’ represents young Seamus Heaney and his father being a follower, how they switch their roles. The other poem ‘death of a naturalist’ is about a child exploring the environment and collecting frogspawn from stagnant water, after the explanation by the child’s teacher; the child is scared of frogs when he later returns to the stagnant water. The child represents a naturalist when he is young, the child is the naturalist in the title. The naturalist doesn’t exist anymore, as he was afraid of the frog.
Death’ means time or way of being gone forever. Therefore this poem is called ‘death of the naturalist’. The similarities of the two poems ‘death of the naturalist’ and ‘follower’ are firstly, their narrator is both Seamus Heaney looking back as a young boy. In ‘Death of a naturalist’ Seamus Heaney is around 7 years old student who collects frogspawns and brings them to school. In ‘follower’ he is a weak young boy, who always has to follow his father in the field, because he can never do the works in the field himself.
Secondly, The themes of the two poems are similar; they are both about journeys starting in childhood. For the poem ‘death of the naturalist’ young Seamus Heaney experiences the journey from childhood innocence to fear, from collecting frog spawn, listen to explanation b y teacher, at last to the stage which he is scared that the spawn would clutch his hand away. The poet ‘Death of a naturalist’ is regretful, nostalgic, lamenting the loss of innocence to fearlessness.
In the poem ‘follower’, it’s a journey from childhood weakness to possession of power, strength and size, the power that he wished to have when he was young. We can see that from the extract ‘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. ‘ It is also about the reversal of power from son to father, father to son. The differences between ‘follower’ and ‘death of a naturalist’ are firstly, the tone of the speaker in ‘follower’ is different from the tone in ‘Death of a naturalist’.
The tone in ‘follower’ can show how young Seamus Heaney admires his father, he is proud of his father. Proud of how strong he is. He wants to grow up and plough himself, not behind his father’s shadow. At the end of the poem, ‘it is my father who keeps stumbling behind me, and will not go away’. The tone has became ironic, because it is not Seamus Heaney following his father anymore, the father that he uses to admire becomes weak and has to follow Seamus Heaney and never go away.
The speaker’s tone in ‘Death of the naturalist’ is reflective; the tone is from fearless to fear. The fearless tone is when young Seamus Heaney first went into the flex-dam and collected frogspawn, the way in which he describes the flax dam with ‘dragon-flies, spotted butterflies and the warm thick slobber frogspawn’. The tone changes after Miss Wall explains about the frogspawn. The tone is used to describe what he thinks the frog in the flex dam looks like and the description of the poet’s reaction to the event.
He sees frogspawn in a different way after the explanation of frog, the journey is same as growing and start seeing the world in a different way, transition in life. The two poems are both about the childhood of Seamus Heaney. The author Seamus Heaney looking back as a young boy, they have a meaning behind them, both of them describe the discovery journey from childhood to something else, sense of fear or to own power. The tone is different; one of them is from fearless to fear another is from proud, admiring to ironic, reversal of father and son roles and of age.