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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.

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Introduction

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.

Middle

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.

Conclusion

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.

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