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Seamus Heaney: Digging

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Seamus Heaney: Digging On the surface level of this poem, Heaney is writing about his life on the farm and describing the scene where his father was digging potatoes. The title 'Digging' is ambiguous and vague. You have to read the poem carefully to realise that all three generations are involved in digging. Heaney's grandfather digs turf, his father digs potatoes, and Heaney himself is digging up memories with his pen. The poem has a powerful opening similie. "The squat pen rests', snug as a gun". It shows how perfectly the pen fits in his hand, and also how powerful the pen is to him, like how a gun is powerful to man. ...read more.


His work was precise and was also very strong. " Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods over his shoulder".. Alliteration is used effectively to create the feel of digging. Eg " spade sinks into gravelly ground". The 's' sounds suggest the slicing of the blade through the earth, and the 'g' sounds suggests the gravelly resistance of the soil. Other examples were "tall tops", "curf cuts". Some parts also appeal to our senses. He describes the feel of the potatoes in stanza three, "loving their cool hardness in our hands". Heaney also gives us the cold smell of "potato mould" and the sound of "squelch" and "slap" which are examples of onomatopoeia. ...read more.


This suggests that his pen is his tool, just as the spades were tools for his father and grandfather. It also suggests that Heaney wants to go back to his roots - to dig into his past through his writing. Although he knows that he can't be his father, he searches for something he can do that lives up to what his father did, so an important theme of this poem would be establishing his own identity, and breaking family tradition to do what he thinks is right for himself. This poem has quite a male feel to it as there were no mention of women at all. Nevertheless, I thought Heaney wrote this poem well, as he used simple yet effective language to display his emotions towards his father and grandfather, and what he wanted to do in life without disrespecting his family's values and traditions. ...read more.

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  1. At A Potato Digging

    which mirrors the way that memories come back to people in their heads - they are usually triggered accidentally by a certain image, smell or sound. 5) In Section III of the poem Heaney recalls the terrible famine of 1845.

  2. Comparing and contrasting "Digging" by Seamus Heaney, and "He was" by Richard Wilbur.

    The child-like sounds of "Chug, choke" and "madrigal wheeze" in 'He was' and the "clean rasping sound" in 'Digging' emphasizes a happy and content childhood memory. Both poets describe the sounds of the fathers' work, and once again the use of alliteration reinforces the childhood memories.

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