I will compare and contrast these poems, discussing the similarities and differences in detail.
“Strongman” by Tony Curtis is a sonnet, expressing intense emotion. The poem begins in a very conversational manor. “A strongman you say” Shows this, by casually addressing the reader as if part of a conversation. This gives the impression that the writer is talking to the reader directly, almost as if the writer is talking of something personal to him. In the octet, many references to wood are appropriately made, as Curtis’ father is mentioned as being a carpenter. Curtis included these to represent his fathers career. Imagery is used to demonstrate his fathers ‘chest like a barrel’, and ‘neck that was like holding onto a tree.’ Similes are also used to display these.
The poem describes Curtis’ father as being an extremely physically strong man, who could ‘punch nails into wood with a clenched fist’. This is obviously not a realistic picture, but it is clear that Curtis admired his father in this aspect. The poem also describes how, when his father came home from work he would ‘stretch his arms, and hang the five sons from them, turning like a roundabout.’ This suggests that despite being a hard-working man, he still had time to pay attention to his children, which is respectable. He seems like a hard-working family man, and a lot of fun.
The poem being separated into two indicates change of direction. In the sestet, there is a sudden change in emotion. The first line, ‘the final hour’, immediately shows this. The father is now dying. Weak. ‘Your hands between the sheets’ indicates that the father is in a bed, suggesting restricted physical movement, unlike before. There is then a role reversal, as the son is lifting the father to the lavatory, as he is now unable to do something so simplistic without help. Obvious damage of self dignity and pride are present, and there is a feeling of heavy, intense emotion. ‘Slipped under a frame of bones like plywood’ also displays the fathers physical weakness, as plywood is brittle and weak, and again is a reference to wood.
‘No trouble - he said. No trouble, Dad -
You said.” Shows that despite both father and son saying the same thing, it has different meaning coming from each. The father doesn’t want to cause any trouble, and feels somewhat embarrassed and ashamed of what he has become. Incapable and weak. The son doesn’t particularly want to physically help him, but he does want to care for his Father, and it is expected of him to do so. These lines of the poem are particularly emotional.
The final line of the poem is ‘And he died in the cradle of your arms’. Along with another reference to wood, it displays another role reversal. The father is described as being in the cradle of his sons arms, whereas many years ago, the son would be in the fathers arms. The son’s arms are protective of him, supporting him, as he dies.
The poem ‘Follower’ by Seamus Heaney is a poem expressing...