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Poetry Assignment Essay

The following three poems have the something in common while they are totally different in the way they have been wrote, the poets and the time in which they were written. The thing they have in common is that they are concerning relationships; they deal with the parent, child relationship, the teacher, pupil relationship and the husband, wife relationship. Relationships can change the way we act, think and deal with life’s path of uncertainty. Everyone has had these types of relationships, or knowledge of them and how they feel.

The first poem is entitled ‘Follower’. It shows a typical father and son relationship of admiration. The writer of this poem is a local man and the literature pride of Ulster, he is undoubtly known by every Irish family. Seamus was born in 1939. He taught in various schools and also lectured for six years. For a few years Heaney became a freelance writer and broadcaster but finally resumed teaching. Heaney has won many award s for his poetry including Whitbread book of the year in 1987. Seamus Heaney is also valued for basing his poetry around the land and signifying the farming community Seamus came from a rural background at a time in which farming was the major industry.

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The most common relationship and meaningful is often parent, child relationships. I myself have a deep admiration and respect for my parents and I would say we have an open relationship. My father is a farmer too and his stature like Heaney’s description is tall, broad and muscular, a fine example of a real man. Heaney shows the relationship between himself and his father.

His father was a farmer as we find out in the first line as Heaney comments on his father’s use of a horse-plough. A horse-plough is a heavy awkward piece of machinery and the operator must be strong to use it correctly. Heaney used a simile to show his father’s strength:

“His shoulder’s globed like a full sail strung”

This gives us an impression of immense strength; particularly in his upper body his shoulders and upper arms.

Heaney tells of how by a click of his father’s tongue, the horses “strained” into position, he uses the word “strained” to explain the control his father had over the horses. This shows control and experience with horses. The poet uses onomatopoeia to mimic the sound of his father’s tongue “clicking tongue”. Heaney emphasized how accomplished he was by calling him:

“An expert”

This clearly shows his admiration for his father. The writer saw his father as someone who was highly skilled and did his job perfectly.

Heaney obviously admired his father’s capabilities of using this plough and the manner in which he does. Heaney is amazed at how his father can perfectly curl the sod over with out it breaking:

“The sod rolled over without breaking.”

In the third stanza he uses words such as “sweating team” to show the hard work of him and his horses together as a team. Heaney mentions his father’s “eye/ Narrowed and angled” to show how precise his father kept the lines. Heaney uses the description of “exactly” to give the impression of his father’s experience and skill at manoeuvring the plough.

In the fourth stanza he tells us of how he “stumbled” in his father’s “hob-nailed” boots wake. Heaney was young and unused to the uneven ground left by the plough, he was inexperienced. Hob-nailed boots were widely worn by men around forty or fifty years ago. They had the sole nailed on and made a clicking noise when walking on hard ground. Heaney remarks on the “polished sod” that held the soil tight, it shows experience, knowledge and precision, as it didn’t crumble or break. Heaney’s father swaged as he walked giving the motion of “Dipping and rising” that Heaney watched with admiration. Heaney loves and adores his father this is shown as he tells us:

“I wanted to grow up and plough,”

Heaney wanted to be just like his father, he was his idol. Heaney watched keenly his father’s actions and followed him like a lost puppy. He wished to be in control, skilled and able to:

“close one eye, stiffen my arm.”

Heaney wanted to be a strong capable man, ploughing but he only ever followed in his father’s “broad shadow”. Heaney wished to be that broad shouldered man.

Heaney realizes that he was too young to help with farm tasks and held his father back with his whinging and tripping over. He knows he was a nuisance to his father:

“I was a nuisance, tripping, falling,

Yapping always.”

There is a complete tonal shift and a complete role reversal. The writer now has a sense of irritation as it is no longer that follows but his father who follows him. The tables have turned as Heaney has become a man, and his father is now older and out of his prime. There is a change from past tense to present tense:

“I was a nuisance, / It is my father”

Heaney is now the strong farmer and his father the nuisance. His father now follows him asking questions and giving orders, feeling stranded as he is elderly, unfit and unable to do the farm needs. He’s now dependant on his son, just as Heaney as a child was dependant on his father, stumbling behind him but now it has been upturned.

It gives a sense of time and place as his father is using a horse plough, a fairly old machine for mass use. Heaney does a magnificent job at describing his father vividly, using fabulous language to describe his adored father.

The poem is divided into six stanzas, each have four lines that are quite regular in length. The AB rhyme scheme is used to emphasis the precision his father had with the plough, it gives unity and regularity just like the furrows that have been ploughed.

The first five stanzas give a tone and sense of admiration for Heaney’s father. By the use of language by the poet we understand Heaney’s awe at his father’s strength and skill.

The poem shows the changing relationships between a son and his father. It deals with change and decline, and shifts of control. It tells how Heaney’s father was once a strong, fit, skilful man in his peak of life has been changed by the years under his belt. Heaney’s father now resembles the child his son used to be, following and watching his son at work.

The speaker is now an adult but is reflecting on fond childhood memories and experiences with his admired father on the farm. At the end though it comes back to present tense.

This is my second poem it’s entitled ‘Last lesson of the afternoon’ it deals with a teacher and his class and the pressure and hate of school they both feel and wish of the bell to ring.The writer of this poem D.H. Laurence was born in 1885 in Nottinghamshire. He became a teacher but he was unhappy with his career so after the publishing of his first novel “The White Peacock” he became a full time writer. Laurence is known much more for his novels than his poetry, as they were very controversial and stole the limelight. Laurence had a lot of talents as he also genres as poetry, short stories, letters, essays and travel. Much of Laurence’s work is deeply personal. We see this theme in the largely autobiographical “Sons and Lovers”. In this poem Laurence expresses a frame of mind of extreme anxiety.

This poem looks at the relationship between teacher and pupil. Relationships between teachers and pupils are often love hate. Teachers often stand in the way of pupils wants to misbehave while trying to teach them the necessities of their subject. The relationship like any other has to be two ways or it fails, struggling.

In the first stanza we get the feeling that the relationship between the teacher and his pupils are strained. The writer gives the impression and creates the illusion of the children as a:

“pack of unruly hounds”

The pupils are like dogs and the teacher, their owner tugs their leaches that restrain them, trying to control them. Yet they still struggle as they are unwilling to learn or be taught. The writer is just waiting for the bell to ring as his class is exhausting him. The class are fighting against him, refusing to learn or gain knowledge:

“a quarry of knowledge they hate to hunt”

The teacher has pulled them kicking and screaming through the lesson and is tired out and hasn’t got enough strength left to try to teach them any longer.

The writer in the second stanza has totally given up on the class. The class is careless and he feels that they have no manners as they insult him by handing in shoddy work. He feels that they are giving him untidy work with little effort put into it from the pupils; he feels it’s a personal insult. The teacher accessed the careless, untidy work that is given to him by his class; he feels the blotted pages are insulting. Throughout the entirety of the poem the language used by the poet is negative. For instance at the beginning of the second stanza the writer speaks of how he:

“No longer can I endure the brunt’

Of the books that lie out on the desks”

There is a feeling that the speaker has been shown bad work from the pupils before and can no longer preserver to look and mark their “slovenly work”. From the speakers use of description for the children’s work we feel they too have a negative feeling towards their work as they have given him careless and untidy work. As the speaker is so depressed with his class he takes their work as an insult to his teaching ability. We see negative language used again in the last stanza. The teacher is sick and tired and is searching for the point of why he’s doing this. He cannot see the benefit for him or his pupils from his:

“What good to them or me, I cannot see!”

In this stanza he uses alteration to emphasise his disappointment.

The writer on the first line of the third stanza makes an important decision, he decides to keep all his energy for himself and fuel his soul, his spirit with it. He wishes to keep his life force alight “kindle my will to a flame”. He refuses the indifference of these pupils dull his light. The writer refuses to let the pupils get to him. He will not let their insults annoy him or zap his strength he emphasises this point and is defiant “I will not!”

In the fourth stanza the speaker no longer cares for his class for he is submerged in saving his energy to fuel his inner being and worrying is draining and pointless to him. He questions why he should care about correcting their mistakes. He senses a feeling of futility, he tells of how he feels his teaching s going down into “abyss” and disappearing.

By the fifth stanza the writer has lost all worth of teaching and feels no responsibility for caring if they can do their work.

“What does it matter to me,”

The pupils are working on writing a description of a dog this suggests that the pupils are either young or weak making their work to him mundane. He yet again questions why he continues with this. He uses a colloquialism, a common expression to express that it’s all the same, that there’s no point:

“it is all my aunt!”

While by society he is supposed to care, it’s his job to care and put his mind, body and soul into teaching and expanding their minds he realizes this but cannot cope.

In the last stanza he shows great negativity and stubbornness:

“I do not, and will not; they won’t and they don’t.

He feels that he cannot change them by doing anything, he is very futile. There is an uncross able gulf between the teacher and the pupils, he feels they are from two different planets. This poem shows the great gulf that lies between teacher and pupil and deals with it. They live indifferent worlds come from different backgrounds have little in common and live completely different lives.

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