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This poem captures a memory of the speaker from his childhood. Now that he is an adult, and presumably his father has died, he recalls his relationship with his father and remembers in particular one vivid memory he has of what he learnt through his father's example and the kind of respect and gentleness his father exhibited, both towards nature and towards his son. This is captured in the way that his father showed him the overturned furrow in the land and the gentleness with which he picked up the baby mice and took them to the edge of the field where they would be safe. Note how the final stanza emphasises how important this memory was for the speaker:
I remember the very softness
of cool and warm sand and tiny alive mice
and my father saying things.
The relationship between father and son is therefore characterised by gentle respect and love. The kinaesthetic feeling of the sand and mice in the speaker's hands is intermingled with his auditory remembrance of what his father said. His father was clearly a person who led by example, and whose actions spoke louder than words, and thus the poem reveals the way in which the son esteemed his father and learnt so much from him.
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