From "Follower", a poem by Seamus Heaney:

An expert. He would set the wing

And fit the bright steel-pointed sock.

The sod rolled over without breaking.

At the headrig, with a single pluck

I have difficulty understanding this stanze, because I do not have a picture in my mind depicting what is described. My questions:

  1. What is meant by 'set the wing'

  2. What is meant by 'fit the bright steel-pointed sock'? Is the 'sock' referring to the one we often wear on our feet? Why does the author describe the 'sock' as being 'steel-pointed'?

  3. What is meant by 'at the headrig'?

The full poetry can be viewed here: http://englishwithhume.weebly.com/uploads/1/0/7/2/10723048/follower.pdf

1 Answer 1


As we learn from the piece, the man worked with a plough (plow). The "wing" and the "steel-pointed sock" are both parts of the plow (e.g. look here). The "head[-]rig" is a place in the field where the plower makes a 180 degree turn (it seems to be Scottish, from The English Village Community, first published in 1883):

In either case all the owners of the strips in a furlong have the right to turn their plough upon the headland, and thus the owner of the headland must wait until all the other strips are ploughed before he can plough his own. The Latin term for the headland is 'forera;' the Welsh, 'pen tir;' the Scotch, 'head-rig;' and the German (from the turning of the plough upon it), 'anwende.'

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .