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Poetry commentary on Digging by Seamus Heaney

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Introduction

Poetry commentary Digging, by Seamus Heaney Digging, by Seamus Heaney is a poem about a young man who gets criticised for choosing a line of work, which is not necessarily ordinary or traditional to his family, and who finally decides that his idea of real work is writing, not physical labour. The poet reminisces about the men in his family and his memories of how hard they worked and passed down their skills from generation to generation. Isolation and separation is one of the first themes introduced to the reader in ?Digging?, as the reader can immediately form a picture of the poet sitting at his writing desk while looking down at his father digging and working in the garden, with a glass pane separating them (stanza 2). ...read more.

Middle

The reader is introduced to the idea that the poet feels superior to the manual work his father subjects himself to and wants to get away from the lifestyle physical labour offers. The poet ?looks down? at his father?s ?straining rump? and this shows that the poet is literally elevated in his position, and the reader gets the sense that the poet feels somehow superior to manual work and isn?t comfortable with the idea of making his living in a similar way to his father?s. The poet explains his father?s skills intensively, and throughout the poem (stanza 4-7), the poet introduces the theme of time where the reader is provided with a flashback of the poet?s grandfather, a potato farmer, with the same skills, from which the poet?s father presumably learnt his gardening and farming skills. ...read more.

Conclusion

In the second last stanza the difficulties the poet?s wish to write are revealed. The words ?the curt cuts through living roots? are sharp words used as a metaphor to explain the instant where the poet cuts his ties with his family?s traditional ideas of earning a living. Comparing the line ?as snug as a gun? in the beginning of the poem to ?I?ll dig with it?, gives the reader a realization that the poet has made up his mind and chosen to follow the path he wants to take. The poet realizes that his skill with a pen is similar to that of his father and grandfathers? farming skills and that he can carry his love for the earth through his writing. Similar to the poet?s grandfather, ?digging down for the good turf,? the poet will dig down for the good skills and ideas that make his poetry a true work of art. ...read more.

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