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Digging languageThe poem starts in the present tense. In the first line you find out that the poem is personal because of the word "my". The unusual simile "The squat pen rests, snug as a gun" is odd

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Introduction

Digging language The poem starts in the present tense. In the first line you find out that the poem is personal because of the word "my". The unusual simile "The squat pen rests, snug as a gun" is odd because guns are not thought of as snug In the second stanza the man hears a sound from "under his window." The poet uses onomatopoeia to describe the sound, which gives us a sense of hearing and being able to imagine the "rasping" sound. There is also alliteration with "spade sinks" and "gravely ground." The persona knows what the "rasping" sound is without even looking down, probably because he has got used to hearing it over the years. This is because sound is shown to trigger off memories in this poem. The third stanza begins with the reader being told what the noise was. ...read more.

Middle

This is alliteration to recreate the expertise of the digging. We find out that the narrator is only a child at this time because he only plays with the potatoes. We can tell that the poem is about a place in Ireland because it says that they farm on a potato field which has for a long time been associated with potatoes. There is an exclamation in the fifth stanza, which could be there because the poet feels he is letting down his predecessors. The line "Just like his old man" is a reminder that all his family stretching back a few generations were diggers. The poet seems to be using genuine admiration for his predecessors in their ability to work on the fields. This is the central point of the poem because it is a lot shorter than the other stanzas. The poet has admiration for his grandfather too, because he tells us how good he was at digging for peat. ...read more.

Conclusion

The onomatopoeia adds extra effect to the description. The metaphor "through living roots awaken in my head" is telling us that the poet feels he is cutting through his family's roots by not digging. He is upset and seems to be very depressed that he is not following the family tradition in the line, "But I've no spade to follow men like them." The last stanza starts off with the same lines as the first stanza as if to show at the poet is still in the same place still waiting to write his poem. This is called a circular structure and perhaps reminds us that the poem is actually about poetry rather than digging. The last line "I'll dig with it" seems more optimistic as if he will dig things out in his mind and then write them down with the pen. He thinks that he is now just as valuable as his ancestors are and that he is not a traitor who broke his family roots. ...read more.

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