Digging Seamus Heaney

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  • Topic: Poetry, Family, Stanza
  • Pages : 2 (593 words )
  • Download(s) : 368
  • Published : December 20, 2010
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The first theme of the poem “Digging” is one of Heaney looking back at his family’s history and tradition. Heaney’s ancestry includes both a farming Gaelic past and the modern Ulster industrial revolution, and this tension between the two sides of his past are demonstrated through this poem “digging”. This is a free verse poem containing eight stanzas and two couplets and it is written in the first person narrative, the free nature of this poem allows us to see Heaney expressing the turmoil he feels between the past the present. But it also demonstrates the love and respect he feels for his ancestors. The poem starts with an image of the poet’s hand “a squat pen rests; snug as gun.” In using this metaphor Heaney is expressing the power of the written word and the pen much like the power of the gun. Initially Heaney appears far removed from his family’s heritage and the idea that boys are expected to follow in their father’s footsteps. However, when you explore the poem further it becomes clear that Heaney is in fact reminiscing of his past and how he holds both his father and grandfather in great esteem. Whilst reflecting within the poem Heaney is disturbed “under my window, a clean rasping sound”. Heaney looks and sees his “father, digging. I look down” Whilst watching his father it suggests that he sees how natural his father is at digging and it invokes the memories he had as a child of both his father and grandfather. Heaney describes both men with a boyish admiration and of his father Heaney exclaims “By god, the old man could handle a spade. Just like his old man.” And of his grandfather “My grandfather cut more turf in a day than any other man on Toner’s bog.” a true local legend. This demonstrates how Heaney sees both men as working class heroes. The second theme of the poem has Heaney reflecting on himself, whom he considers to have less-admirable qualities compared to his honest and hardworking father and grandfather. Heaney wonders if his...
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