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An Analysis of the Poem "Digging" by Seamus Heaney

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An Analysis of the Poem "Digging" by Seamus Heaney

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As one discovers more about one's past, one ultimately unravels one's own identity, as shown in the poem, "Digging" by Seamus Heaney, where the narrator through digging through his own family roots, comes to accept his own heritage and family traditions. "Digging" is the first poem in Seamus Heaney's first collection, "Death of a Naturalist". In this poem, the theme of heritage and family traditions is most apparent. The narrator describes two relationships in the poem, and through examination of the two relationships; one between father and son and one between grandfather and grandson, one realizes that the narrator slowly comes to accept his own family traditions. In addition, throughout the whole poem, there is a central extended metaphor of digging and roots, which shows how the poet, in his writing is getting back at his own roots.

I'll first be talking about the relationship between father and son. The relationship between father and son seems to be one of tension and distance as conveyed to the readers at first. For instance, the narrator "looks down" at his father digging, as shown in the second stanza, which can either be interpreted in two ways. One way is that the narrator is situated above his father who is in the fields digging, or another way in which the narrator looks down upon his father and sees no value in his occupation. As shown, the narrator's position is above his father because he has an education, which is reinforced from the start: the narrator is a writer, and most likely received more education than his father who is a potato farmer. The mood reinforces the distant relationship between the father and the son. The mood of the poem at first is soleme and grave. This is exemplified in the onomatopoeia, "a clean, rasping sound" , which carry cacophonous sounds, as well as the diction "the spade sinks into gravelly ground". The diction "gravelly" all suggest a very solemn relationship between the father and the son. Not only so, the...

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