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

Seamus Heaney uses various ways to explore the theme of family life in his poems. The poems, 'digging' and 'follower' specifically explore this theme, 'Digging' is about Heaney's search for his family history.

Extracts from this document...


Seamus Heaney uses various ways to explore the theme of family life in his poems. The poems, 'digging' and 'follower' specifically explore this theme, 'Digging' is about Heaney's search for his family history, and he seems to be digging into the past for old memories and his ancestral roots and is also about the admiration he has for his ancestors. 'Follower' on the other hand is about the roles in his family and the relationship between his father and him and his disappointment at not being able to possess the same skills as him. Heaney shows a great deal of admiration for his father and grandfather's skill. This is shown in the way Heaney describes them and their vocation. Heaney physically uses words that make his ancestors seem very powerful, In "follower" he begins the poem by stating "my father worked with a horse plough" this immediately shows his appreciation for his fathers ability to do physical work, using a horse plough is very physically demanding and by starting with this line he sets the theme and tone of the rest of the poem. Also the strong "k" sound in "worked" emphasises the word making it seem more physically demanding. ...read more.


In digging Heaney uses an onomatopoeic word "rasping "to describe the action of his father digging in the past. Alliteration in the next line "spade sinks, " puts emphasis on the more physical act of the spade being raised to dig, almost making Heaney's father seem tireless. The alliteration in "gravely ground" makes Heaney seem quite young as his vocabulary is not sophisticated but he still makes descriptions vivid. Another form of the admiration Heaney has is when is says "bends low comes up twenty years away" and "Stooping in rhythm" suggests that Heaney's father was able to stand tiring labour for twenty years. Heaney shows further admiration when he describes the process of "digging " in a professional way, almost like he was giving instructions instead of describing his father "The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft Against the inside knee was levered firmly" This shows how perfect and exact the movements of his fathers were and how Heaney was so proud of him. The words "nicking " and "slicing" are assonate while "curt" and "cuts" are onomatopoeic and Heaney uses them to describe with pride how precise the work of a farmer is. ...read more.


Heaney does not follow his father's generation, instead he decides to become a poet, something he constantly uses to contrast him and his ancestors. In Digging he writes, "between my finger and my thumb the squat pen rests; snug as a gun" the "snug as a gun" is a form of assonance, this emphasises these words making it seem both that he feels comfortable with a pen in his hand and it hints at the violence and unrest, prevalent in Irish History. This is a contrast with his father who was a farmer. Heaney says "But I've no spade to follow men like them", here he may be feeling a sense of failure for not being as good a farmer as his ancestors, however, he shows pride in his ability as a poet when he says "I'll dig with it". Also in the last stanza of digging Heaney writes "Between my ....dig with it", This seems to indicate that Heaney has decided his profession is that of a poets, even though he has a great respect for his ancestors. The line "I'll dig will it " seems to suggest its his weapon of choice. Discuss Seamus Heaney's relationship with members of his family in "digging" and "follower" Shubhagi Kitchloo 11G ...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. Marked by a teacher

    Seamus Heaney's poems explore the loss of childhood and the cruel awakening into the ...

    4 star(s)

    Like "Blackberry Picking," it is an extended metaphor. The first stanza represents childhood and the second stanza represents adulthood. The poem is written from the perspective of an adult, a reflection on a childhood experience, like "Blackberry Picking." There are infantile descriptions in the poems: "the mammy frog laid hundreds of little eggs."

  2. Peer reviewed

    "Compare and Contrast 'Catrin' by Gillian Clarke with 'Digging' by Seamus Heaney

    3 star(s)

    In the "Digging" poem the language used by the poet is presented in the way that he is talking about his family. "Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds". (Stanza 3) In the "Catrin" poem the language is used differently, in fact quite the opposite.

  1. Compare And Contrast Seamus Heaney's Poems 'Digging' And 'Follower'.

    The idea of freshly ploughed soil, adds to the readers view of the country side as a beautiful place and so country life is also portrayed as something happy. 'Digging' and 'Follower' differ in their structures as 'Digging' consists of a much looser structure than Follower.

  2. Critical Analysis of Poems by Seamus Heaney

    Heaney again brings up the religious symbols when he says: "With thorn pricks" This can be linked back to the trial of Jesus, when he was forced to wear a crown of thorns. A recurring theme of violence and murder becomes evident.

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

    The movement between the first and second section of the poem is underlined by the use of the word 'Then' at the start of the second section. The poem makes use of enjambement (one line running on into the next)

  2. Explore Heaney's themes and poetic technique in 'Digging' and 'Follower'.

    The theme of nature is explored further in the third verse when the horses and the father are described as 'the sweating team', Heaney's father is almost as if he's a part of nature himself. Nature is also used in the second half of this verse when Heaney's father uses

  1. Seamus Heaney has Vivid Memories of his Childhood. Analyse Two Poems That Reflect Heaney's ...

    The use of alliteration helps the line to flow, creating the thought of his father working continuously throughout the day. The simile is used to create the imagery of something great and broad: 'His shoulders globed like a full sail strung' This is also a nautical reference, which are used several times throughout the poem.

  2. Compare and contrast the poems "Digging" and "Follower".

    In the poem, 'Follower' Heaney tells us that he wants to become a farmer when he grew up, this is the total opposite of what he really became when we learn that he actually grew up to become a writer and a poet.

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