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Structure and Form • Each verse contains four lines which rhyme (exactly or closely) alternately. The first five verses have a regular metre, each line having eight syllables. The last verse, to emphasise the confusion of his adult feelings towards his now old and more dependent father, has a different metre. The first, third and fourth lines have nine syllables and the second only seven.
Comparative Ideas • Family relationships – Any Heaney poem here (except Death of a Naturalist and The Barn) Old Man, Old Man, Once Upon A Time. Look at the ways Heaney (and/or other poets) remembers their parents and how their relationships have changed, even sometimes reversed. In the case of Once Upon A Time the father envies the son the openness and honesty he once had before a different culture forced him to conform to behaviour he found hypocritical and false.