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The poem Digging by Seamus Heaney explores themes of identity, ability and family relationships and values

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Commentary Sample: The poem ?Digging? by Seamus Heaney explores themes of identity, ability and family relationships and values. The literary devices interwoven throughout the poem are integral in ensuring that the reader grasps these themes. These devices include imagery, simile, repetition, tone and narrative perspective. The poem is structured from a first-person perspective. The unnamed speaker is described as a writer who is sitting at his desk. He is distracted by his father, who is digging laboriously ?among the flowerbeds? (line 6) outside, and this triggers a spiral of memories ?twenty years away.? (Line 7) The free verse structure ensures that the speaker?s musings back and forth through time flow without restriction, adding to the contemplative tone continuous throughout the poem. ...read more.


The reverence that the speaker has for his forefathers? work is evident in his tone: ?By God, the old man could handle a spade, just like his old man.? (Line 15) In contrast with his father and his grandfather, the speaker handles himself clumsily under the same conditions. The phrase ?Once I carried him milk in a bottle corked sloppily with paper? (Line 19) is a reflection of this, where the use of paper is different to the kind he is shown to be skilled at. A sense of detachedness is established early on in the poem, in the second stanza, where the speaker describes himself to be separated from the outside where his forefathers have worked by a window. ...read more.


Guns are also symbols of purpose and power, and by placing the two objects alongside one another the speaker suggests that the pen can fulfil a role with the same relevance. In this way, the poem presents the idea that everything has a key purpose and that there is no way to measure one?s importance over another. The poem finishes with the use of repetition in the lines, ?Between my finger and my thumb the squat pen rests. I'll dig with it.? (Lines 29-31) This almost mirrors the opening of the poem, however this time a conclusive statement is reached. The speaker states that ?digging? ? adding depth and meaning to one?s life ? can be achieved through a variety of methods, thus opening up to figurative implications for the title. Throughout the poem, the speaker is metaphorically ?digging? his own path to bring meaning to his identity. 669 words ...read more.

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