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

The poem Digging by Seamus Heaney explores themes of identity, ability and family relationships and values

Extracts from this document...


Commentary Sample: The poem ?Digging? by Seamus Heaney explores themes of identity, ability and family relationships and values. The literary devices interwoven throughout the poem are integral in ensuring that the reader grasps these themes. These devices include imagery, simile, repetition, tone and narrative perspective. The poem is structured from a first-person perspective. The unnamed speaker is described as a writer who is sitting at his desk. He is distracted by his father, who is digging laboriously ?among the flowerbeds? (line 6) outside, and this triggers a spiral of memories ?twenty years away.? (Line 7) The free verse structure ensures that the speaker?s musings back and forth through time flow without restriction, adding to the contemplative tone continuous throughout the poem. ...read more.


The reverence that the speaker has for his forefathers? work is evident in his tone: ?By God, the old man could handle a spade, just like his old man.? (Line 15) In contrast with his father and his grandfather, the speaker handles himself clumsily under the same conditions. The phrase ?Once I carried him milk in a bottle corked sloppily with paper? (Line 19) is a reflection of this, where the use of paper is different to the kind he is shown to be skilled at. A sense of detachedness is established early on in the poem, in the second stanza, where the speaker describes himself to be separated from the outside where his forefathers have worked by a window. ...read more.


Guns are also symbols of purpose and power, and by placing the two objects alongside one another the speaker suggests that the pen can fulfil a role with the same relevance. In this way, the poem presents the idea that everything has a key purpose and that there is no way to measure one?s importance over another. The poem finishes with the use of repetition in the lines, ?Between my finger and my thumb the squat pen rests. I'll dig with it.? (Lines 29-31) This almost mirrors the opening of the poem, however this time a conclusive statement is reached. The speaker states that ?digging? ? adding depth and meaning to one?s life ? can be achieved through a variety of methods, thus opening up to figurative implications for the title. Throughout the poem, the speaker is metaphorically ?digging? his own path to bring meaning to his identity. 669 words ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level 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 AS and A Level Seamus Heaney essays

  1. Peer reviewed

    Analyse how Seamus Heaney uses language to convey his childhood experiences to the reader ...

    3 star(s)

    It may even be used to show that the boy has become frightened and that his heart rate has become quicker which is shown by the quicker pace of the line. This is a contrast to "Blackberry Picking". In "Blackberry Picking" the poet wants us to see he is happy initially.

  2. Follower is a poem about the poets love and admiration for his father. It ...

    The young Heaney was used to seeing nature close up but perhaps never got beyond the very simple account of 'mammy and daddy' frogs. The arrival of the frogs is like a military invasion - they are "angry" and invade the d*m; the boy ducks "through hedges" to hide from the enemy.

  1. 'From our study in the "Clearances" collection, what is revealed about Seamus Heaney and ...

    This illuminates the problems faced by Heaney and his mother, despite speaking less intellectually for the right reasons, at the same time neither are being true to themselves, and are lying about the real person inside in order to please each other.

  2. Explore how Heaney writes about suffering in 'Bye-Child' and in one other poem of ...

    There is major shock factor when Heaney mentions 'netted an infant last night'. The young child is yet again described as a fish, and the 'netted' shows the brutality of his cruel and unnecessary death. Also, the fact that the child is 'along with the salmon' is a clear indication

  1. Digging languageThe poem starts in the present tense. In the first line you find ...

    The poet recreates the speed and precision of the digging with sharp cutting sounds such as "tall, tops" and "buried the bright."

  2. A Comparison Between 'Requiem For The croppies' And 'The Tollund Man', both by Seamus Heaney

    Part two of this poem is about four catholic brothers who were ambushed by protestant men. The brothers were tied to the back of a train and dragged to their death over several miles of train line, parts of

  1. Seamus Heaney.

    Heaney presents the mature relationship of a child with his or her parents, the unspoken joy of a shared experience. His recognition of his father's different talents leads to a consideration of his own work, like his father's a "frail device."

  2. Compare and contrast two of Seamus Heaney's sonnets, 'The Forge' and 'Strange Fruit'.

    to the distant past of her death (past tense) and those who observe her death or her remains (Diodorus Siculus and the poet). Both sonnets open directly and distantly. The unsophisticated opening line in The Forge 'All I know is a door into the dark' justifies the poet's cause in the poem.

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