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Analyse the poem "Digging" by the contemporary Irish poet Seamus Heaney.

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Introduction

Digging I am going to analyse the poem "Digging" by the contemporary Irish poet Seamus Heaney. Travelling on from Heaney's first poem "Follower", this poem is about Heaney as a young man, making a decision about his future. It shows his admiration for his family's traditional occupation, digging, and he compares it with his own vocation for writing. The poem starts and ends with the same idea, Heaney has chosen his own career path. In the first stanza, the first two lines of the poem are used to demonstrate that Heaney has decided to choose his own career path, as a writer. It is clear that Heaney feels he is very skilled with a pen and demonstrates this in the opening stanza. He uses a rhyming couplet to open the poem, which includes a metaphor; he also uses assonance "snug" and "gun" "The squat pen rests snug as a gun". In "snug as a gun" Heaney uses a simile to show power. Heaney also states that his pen is ready to spring into action, also saying that his pen is a powerful tool, just like his father's spade is a powerful tool to him. ...read more.

Middle

Heaney is also showing he has respect for his father, and highlighting that they are both experts at their own separate occupations. In the third and fourth stanza, Heaney sees his father digging in a flowerbed, and it reminds him of his childhood days when his father used to dig potatoes. He uses these flashbacks as detail in these two stanzas. "Till his straining rump among the flower beds bends low, comes up twenty years away stooping in rhythm through potato drills where he was digging." Heaney again mentions that this brings flashbacks of his boyhood. In the fourth stanza, Heaney is describing his father's work using alliteration and assonance. He does this in description to show what his father did. There is another change in heart; this time it shows Heaney shares his father's love of the land both as a child and at the present. "The coarse boat nestled on the lug." With nestled, Heaney means his father was mighty and strong but now he is elderly, he is cute and cuddly, a shade of his old self. The first two lines in this fourth stanza Seamus Heaney again use technical writing. ...read more.

Conclusion

He begins to show how he feels about his father's and grandfather's career, he uses language that sounds heavy, tiring and hard work, not easy or simple and light. "Nicking and slicing." This shows the very difficult work of his grandfather and he is also showing the actual sense of digging. Again, Seamus Heaney uses imagery in the seventh stanza. "The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap of soggy peat." Heaney is showing that he does not like the job of farming, yet he once looked up to his father doing the job. Heaney also uses the words "mould" and "squelch" and "slap" to describe the disgusting, dirty jobs of a farmer. "But I've no spade to follow men like them." This follows on into the eighth stanza to describe Heaney's feelings about following on in the tradition of his family. In Eire, if you are a farmer then everyone in your family has to follow in your footsteps, it is the tradition. But Heaney has betrayed this tradition and followed his heart to be a writer. "The squat pen rests." Heaney is telling the reader he is as good with his pen as his father is at farming and then the last line of the poem "I'll dig with it" is a repetition of the first stanza. By Thomas McCance 10M1/PF ...read more.

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