• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Comparative Poetry Essay - "The Thought Fox" and "Digging"

Extracts from this document...


Comparative Poetry Essay "The Thought Fox" and "Digging" are both poems which explore their respective authors' attitudes towards writing poetry. They both employ extended metaphors to this end, but their views differ greatly. Digging is by Seamus Heaney, and portrays poetry writing as a mundane yet skilful activity. At the beginning of the poem, Heaney uses the simile "as snug as a gun" to describe his pen. This image suggests that Heaney views the pen as something powerful, which, whilst strong, requires someone to trigger it. Guns also require ammunition, which is supplied by the user. In this analogy, the ammunition is Heaney's ideas, which he 'fires' at the paper using the pen. The fact that it is "snug" suggests that Heaney is not writing with it, which implies that he cannot think of anything to write. The Thought Fox, by Ted Hughes, begins in a somewhat similar vein. Hughes, like Heaney, mentions his stationery when he says "this blank page where my fingers move". This implies that Hughes is also stuck for ideas, but whilst Heaney is trying to actively think of something to write about, Hughes seems to be simply waiting for an idea to come to him. The first line, "I imagine this midnight moment's forest", presents to the reader an image of a forest at night, dark and quiet. ...read more.


The use of language here - employing the word "away" instead of a more typical word such as "ago" - makes the reader feel as though Heaney is very distanced from his past, and has perhaps tried to put it behind him. He grew up on his family's farm, winning a scholarship to St. Columb's College when he was 12. Heaney later described his move from the farm to the school as moving from "the earth of farm labour to the heaven of education," which implies that farm labour, despite any expectations his family might have of him, was not something which he excelled at. This no doubt made him feel insubstantial and insecure, which explains why his childhood would be something he would wish to forget. Heaney moves on to set the scene - his father is digging again, but instead of in flowerbeds, he is now digging potato drills. The memory continues into the fourth stanza, in which words and phrases such as "lug", "shaft" and "rooted out tall tops" emphasise that he is slipping back more completely into the memory, and using his father's terminology as he no doubt did when he was young. Moreover, an admiring tone seeps into his language, which is a stark contrast to the disdain of previous stanzas. We can see that whilst Heaney feels differently about his father in the present, he once admired him as every small boy admires his father. ...read more.


The absence of the simile is significant because it implies that he has accepted the value of writing poetry and no longer needs to glamorise his pen - in the final stanza it is simply a pen. Hughes is brought out of his subconscious by the "sudden sharp hot stink of fox" which occurs when the idea suddenly comes to him. Like in Digging, this language is also very sensuous, but much more abrupt than the more nostalgic descriptions of the poet's childhood. He ends the poem with the words "The page is printed", showing that he has successfully taken the thought and used it. Something obvious to anyone who reads these poems is that they are written in very different ways. The Thought Fox feels very magical and strange, whilst Digging is mundane and ordinary. This seems to reflect how the poets feel about the process of writing a poem. On the one hand, Hughes sees it as a gift, something given to him by some deity on a higher plane, whilst on the other hand, Heaney sees as something to be striven for - a conscious effort, not dissimilar to manual labour. In my opinion, neither poem is better than the other; they are both very pleasing to read. Whilst I enjoyed reading The Thought Fox more, and felt that it is more engrossing and almost exotic, I concur with the views on writing poetry which are set out in Digging; that ideas have to be found, not simply waited for. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Seamus Heaney section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Seamus Heaney essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Compare and contrast 'MCMXIV' by Philip Larkin and 'Six Young Men' by Ted Hughes.

    3 star(s)

    This gives us an idea of their personalities and helps us to imagine what they were like in life. Because Hughes has given us an idea of how they were, the stanza ends with a very a hard-hitting line for the reader ("Six months after this picture they were all dead").

  2. Seamus Heaney - The Skunk analysis

    The tail also reminded Heaney of the chasuble because of its striped pattern - the tail was 'damasked'. Heaney also compares the skunk to a "visitor", which in the context of this poem, may mean secret lover. "I expected her like a visitor" is a smooth transition to the second

  1. Compare the ways in which Heaney and Sheers use their nationality and background in ...

    This had had a huge influence on Heaney's poetry as often the countryside or nature provides a foundation for his poems. His imagery is rooted in situations or descriptions that evoke the texture of rural Irish life. For example in his poem "Follower" Heaney states: "I wanted to grow up and plough, /To close one eye, stiffen my arm."

  2. Wild Oats & Afternoons: A Comparitive Essay

    Indeed, Larkin drains the young mothers' lives of the romance they must once have had - their wedding albums lie abandoned by the television (which presumably receives more attention than they do), and there is perhaps a bitter pun on the word 'lying'.

  1. Cross Genre Comparison - 'Blackberries' by Leslie Norris and 'Blackberry Picking' by Seamus Heaney.

    Heaney then compares the children to the murderous pirate Bluebeard, who used to kill his wives so the comparison of 'palms as sticky as bluebeards' is really effective because the poem makes so many references to blood. The poem also uses blood to describe the colour of the blackberries and

  2. Comparison between 'Tall Nettles' and 'Thistles'

    This poem has crossed rhyme and within the crossed rhyme there is eye rhyme like done and stone, false rhyme like plough and now, and true rhyme like flower and shower, all examples from the text. Secondly, 'Thistles' is broken into four stanzas, each consisting of three verses in each.

  1. Compare the two poets Ted Hughes and Simon Armitage.

    By using the word 'eternity' we know that the girl in the poem will carry the ringed marks around her fingers for the rest of her life and will always be reminded of the boy. Also, the fact that the poem doesn't have a title makes it stand out too.

  2. "English poets are being forced to explore not just the matter of England, but ...

    Larkin is fascinated by the relationship between the individual self and the landscape it inhabits.2 Particular poems in The Whitsun Weddings, such as 'Here', depict a geographical landscape, a rather flat portrait of England beyond which Larkin then moves by linking the physical panorama to the human condition.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work