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

Digging’ and ‘Early Purges’

Extracts from this document...


Diverse cultures and Traditions in 20th Century poetry Introduction For the Diverse Cultures assignment, I have studied pieces by Seamus Heaney. These include 'Digging' and 'Early Purges'. All the poems relate back to his young life in Limavady in the County of Derry, Northern Ireland. When Heaney was young, he wanted to follow in his fathers and grandfathers footsteps of being farmers. Not just that, but being the eldest child in his family, he was expected to. Instead however, he turned his back on his family's great tradition, and decided to become a writer instead. As said, Heaney did want to become a farmer, this was expressed in the poem 'Follower', where he describes the way his father used to plough fields. The title itself shows there was once an ambition to follow. Furthermore, the pride that Heaney expresses in his family's age-old tradition is articulated in the poem 'Digging': "By God, the old man could handle a spade. ...read more.


There is no clearer depiction of an Irish, Catholic background than that found in 'Half-term break', where Heaney is taken from boarding school to find out his four-year-old brother is dead. The traditional 'wake' is described in this poem, something that is uniquely Irish. He says "old men standing up to shake my hand and tell me they were 'sorry for my trouble'". I have a perfect picture of this in my head as I have been to a few wakes. I can even imagine the whispers circling the room in the colloquial, sharp, Derry accent. After reading through his poems that relate to farming, I get the feeling that he regretted not following the tradition which so many families in the area of rural Northern Ireland had. Although I cannot substantiate this statement with any apparent evidence I think he felt somewhat disloyal to his roots and to his father. The poem 'Digging', Heaney takes time to intricately describe the way his father digging and cutting turf. ...read more.


This is very graphic writing, and some could say, quite disturbing. I personally think it adds to the atmosphere of the poem. I think that the up until the final two verses, Heaney's outlook is that of a young boy, who doesn't understand why something so cruel should happen. Heaney then shows his maturity by showing his understanding that the kittens, or 'pests' as they and other such animals were collectively known, basically had to be removed. The language used by Heaney also expresses the fact that little was thought of these so-called nuisances. He says they are 'slung' and Dan Taggart describes them as 'scraggy wee shits'. This shows the way people who owned farms perceived the killings, which was a stark contrast to those in urban communities. 'Blackberry picking' is a poem about Heaney blackberry picking in the late August summer. Once again, Heaney vividly describes what happens, appealing to our senses. He talks about berries 'inking up' and describes the different colours and there texture. The overall look of the poem is he and his 'accomplices' hunting their 'treasure'. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE 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 GCSE Seamus Heaney essays

  1. Comparing "Mid-term Break" and "The Early Purges".

    Here the kittens are thought of as worthless and not important like gloves are. To "Dan" the kittens are waste because they are put on the "Dunghill," this shows that on the farm they are worthless. It gives a sad effect because we know kittens as pets but in this poem they are pests.

  2. 'The Early Purges' by Seamus Heaney focuses on the traumas of childhood, and how ...

    slung on the snout' The 's' letter is repeatedly used, this creates a coarse atmosphere and also a fast paced scene; the author apparently doesn't have time to carefully think about word choice, he just has to describe what he sees quickly, as it happens.

  1. Comparing Mid-Term Break with Digging

    This contrast to the sixth and seventh stanzas, where the text gets a far more personal air. He talks of candles that "soothed the bedside". In these stanzas, it becomes far more emotive than before. Another contrast used in this poem is the baby's reaction, compared to the rest of the family.

  2. GCSE English Seamus Heaney - 'At a Potato Digging', 'Follower', 'Death ...

    The stanzas are of different lengths and this reflects the way in which the memory of the poet works. The structure of the poem starts and ends in a very similar way. The short final line suggests the determination of the poet to pursue his writing career in the future.

  1. In his poems 'Follower and Digging' Heaney is thinking about his father. How do ...

    He did this even though he was breaking the family tradition of generations of men who had become farmers.' This reminds me of myself because when you are young you take on your parent's views and listen to what they want you to do in life.

  2. The Early Purges by Seamus Heaney.

    The first one is describing Taggart. In the first stanza, "Taggart, scraggy" a consonance with the hard 'g' sound, intensifies the hardness of Taggart. The second one involves the connotation of the word 'kittens', which is probably the heart of the poem. It reflects the poet's sentiment.

  1. Compare and Contrast 'Death of a Naturalist', ' An Advancement of Learning' and ' ...

    In 'Death of a Naturalist', the tone for the first stanza the tone is happy and up lifted, but in the second stanza the tone changes to a sense of danger and heavy hearted.

  2. Poetry Comparison - 'Follower' and 'The Early Purges' by Seamus Heaney.

    Heaney then shows his maturity again by showing his understanding that the kittens, or 'pests', did actually have to be removed. In the final stanza, a feeling of regret still takes place where he is trying to convince himself that he did the right thing and that the kittens are better off dead than alive.

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