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"Digging" by Seamus Heaney

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"Digging" The poem "Digging" by Seamus Heaney is a very intriguing poem that carries across much meaning to the reader of the poem. The dramatic situation that is described is a son, who appears to be a writer, looking back onto his past and thinking about the work his father and grandfather did. Through the use of strong language and many poetic devices, Seamus Heaney has given a whole new meaning to the idea of 'digging'. Heaney uses precise words and a very effective style to portray the idea of a son looking back on the work of his ancestors and realizing just how he fits into his family's history and tradition. There are basically two ideas upon how the character fits into his family tradition. The character has broken away from the farming custom of his family, but yet he still maintains the idea of creating and using tools very precisely with his new line of work, writing. However, another interesting detail about the poem "Digging" is how the character in the poem can be seen as Seamus Heaney himself. Heaney too was a writer and his family also ran a farm. As a result of this, the poem acquires much more feeling and emotion and the author can be seen as talking about himself. ...read more.


He describes how his father worked through the words "The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft/ Against the inside knee was levered firmly." The use of the word "course" describes how it is not an easy job and that it requires people to be tough, however, the use of the word "nestled" creates an image of a person being a master at farming. The word "nestled" has a sound of elegance to wwhat the characters father is doing. The fourth stanze mainly portrays the respect that the character has for the strength and skill that his father posesses. The fifth stanzais in the middle of the poem and this is important because it describes the shift from the character talking about his father, to talking about his grandfather. From this stanza, the reader can see the syle used by Seamus Heaney to write this poem. This poem is basically written in a retrospective way in which the charcter describes himself in the beginiing, but then changes to talking about other people in his family. However, the character later moves into the past to describe his father and him being a farmer. This style contunues to the fifth stanza when the character shifts his thoughts from his father to his grandfather and his career, which was also farming. ...read more.


The poem is full of the many sounds of work. The hard 'g' sounds of "digging", "gravelly ground", "snug", "lug" and "soggy" have an onomatopoeic effect in making a picture that describes the sound of the spade sinking into the hard ground. If the character's father and grandfather were skilled with the spade, the character himself is skilled with the pen. And this idea can be seen throughout the whole last stanza. The character describes how he is a writer, and how his tool is his pen. His grandfather and father dug with the spade or the shovel, the main character in the poem is going to use his pen to dig; dig into his past and use it to write elegantly. This poem revolves around the idea of a person looking back into the past and realizing how he has chosen a different, however not completely different, path than his ancestors. The character can also be seen as Seamus Heaney himself, and him looking back onto his family and thinking about how he has choesen to be a poet rather than a farmer. Heaney can be seen as linking his family's past and their skills, to his own present and his skills with his pen. Even though the idea of digging with shovels can be seen as different from digging with a pen, the idea of the tool being used very skillfully is parallel to both. ...read more.

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