Seamus Heaney Digging Essays

An In-depth Analysis Of Digging Essay example

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“Digging'; is about a person looking out of a window at their Father digging, describing what he/she sees and then the poem goes on to describe what he/she feels.
I believe that the narrative voice in the poem is in fact that of Seamus Heaney. There are a number of clues that lead me to this conclusion. The first and most obvious one is in the first line,
‘Between my finger and my thumb.’

The poet writes in the first person throughout the poem. He writes about his Father and his Grandfather and he seems to move from describing his Father to describing his Grandfather. He does this so smoothly that the reader harldy notices the transition that took place. The second clue is slightly more hidden. The poet…show more content…

That line also paints an image in the readers mind of the spade sinking in and the scratching/rasping sound it makes. An example of how the author does the same thing only with the sense touch is, ‘The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft Against the inside knee was levered firmly.’ In this case the second line emphasizes the first. It does this by using the words levered and firmly they make the whole phrase seem more realistic.

However the best possible example of this is when the poet uses two senses to emphasize sight ‘The cold smell of potatoe mould, the squelch and slap Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge.’
These two lines not only include two senses but one of the senses uses two onomatopoeic words; squelch and slap. These two words suggest someone moving through thick soggy mud for some reason it also suggests to me that it was on a cold day.
In my opinion that line is also quite interesting to read because it paints a clear picture in my mind’s eye of someone toiling and sloshing around in the mud. I think this is because the poet uses words like; soggy, curt, cuts and edge. Since those words are sharp words they make the phrase clearer and sharper in my mind’s eye.
I think the poet’s attitute to work is that of a perfectionist. I get this impression because of how picky he is about describing the way his Father and

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In many families, fathers take pride in receiving remarks regarding their sons such as “He’s a chip off the ol’ block” or “like father like son,” often exalting the sons who have followed in their fathers’ vocational footsteps. In “Digging,” by Seamus Heaney, the speaker describes the quintessential potato farming tradition that his father and grandfather partake in, while the speaker himself observes through a window barrier. Seamus Heaney, through his use of imagery, repetition, and extended metaphors, reveals his feelings in straying away from Irish tradition to follow his own path in writing.

In his poem, Heaney utilizes imagery to further emphasize the speaker’s action in choosing a different job than potato farming. The speaker begins at a windowsill, with a “squat pen” resting “as snug as a gun” in his hand. Heaney’s description connotes a sense of defense, almost as if the narrator sees himself as an old wilderness-survival junkie, sitting on the porch with a gun to defend his property from government officials, but in “Digging,” the speaker defends his choice in jobs. Later on in the poem, the speaker describes the actions of a potato harvester, who must endure the “cold smell of potato mold [and] the squelch and slap of soggy peat.” Heaney’s images of mold and soggy mud convey the speaker’s true feeling and apprehension toward the sickening, gross environment in which his father and grandfather work.

In the same way, Heaney’s repetition further alludes to the speaker’s need and desire to write. In the first and last stanzas of the poem, the speaker repeats the same sentence: “Between my finger and my thumb / The squat pen rests.” As a starting point in the poem, the speaker directly jumps to his comfort zone—describing his love for putting pen to paper, yet as an ending note, the narrator reemphasizes his possession of not only the pen, but of his life choices.

Also, Heaney often uses the word “digging” as a separate prepositional phrase during a sentence, reiterating the word to simply give the reader a sense of the mundane life his father is living. There are no adverbs surrounding the word; simply put, the speaker evokes a sense of nothingness that is associated with “digging” a hole in the ground, only to fill said hole with a potato and cover it back up—a menial task for which he has no inclination. Again, Heaney repeats some phrases in order to accentuate his aversion to the job of potato harvesting.

Lastly, Heaney implements extended metaphors throughout his poem to subtly convey his feelings towards his father’s tradition. As stated earlier, the repetition of “digging” also connotes a deeper meaning—the speaker, while also observing his father literally dig through the mud and peat, figuratively digs through his memories of his family, recalling the days when he would help his grandfather out in “Toner’s bog.”

In the second to last verse, the speaker alludes to revisiting the past by stating the “living roots awaken in my head.” The roots, although they can refer to the physical roots in the ground, symbolize the narrator’s family roots in potato farming, a culture that is associated with digging into the ground to find food and money in the form of potatoes. In the end, the speaker ends the metaphor of digging, noting he will “dig,” but not with the spade, but with his pen.

Seamus Heaney’s poem “Digging” tells a tale of a man musing about his decision to leave behind family convention. Heaney employs a series of images that convey the speaker’s feelings, repetition to show the narrator’s dislike of potato harvesting, and metaphors to provide an underlying message about tradition. In the end, the speaker is left commenting on the spade, his father and grandfather’s tool of choice, while he himself chooses the pen.

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