Digging by Seamus Heaney is a poem in which Heaney translates the five senses into words to describe the digging his father and grandfather did for a living. The poem provides a distinct repetition of sound, a strenuous physicality of work, the unique talent of the poet’s lineage, and the privilege of education.
The five senses of humanity are brought to the reader through the poet’s choice of words. For example, “Under my window, a clean rasping sound when the spade sinks into the gravely ground” provides the sound of the worker from the poets view. Also later in the poem, “the cold smell of potato mould” providing the smell that the work brought upon the area. All five senses are shown throughout the five stanzas of the poem.
The skill of Heaney’s family is extremely unique. Most people do not look at digging as a talent or skill but in this poem it is. Heaney says, “By God, the old man could handle a spade. Just like his old man.” Heaney features this as a couplet in the middle of the poem for it to stand out. Heaney would like others to know his long line of diggers were not ordinary, they were the best. The skill shows that this was more than just work, it was their family’s way of living life.
This poem is personal to Heaney. Heaney talks of the skills his family possessed through the generations and how he does not follow in their footsteps exactly by saying, “But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.” Showing respect he states he will not follow the diggers but later says, “Between my finger and my thumb the squat pen rests. I’ll dig with it.” Heaney states his type of work will be writing and he will still continue his family’s ways with his writing.
The repetition of sound in this poem is extremely significant. Heaney provides three major types of rhymes; the half rhyme, the assonance rhyme, and the consonance rhyme. The half rhyme is like a nursery rhyme but softer so that the eyes of the reader are not taken off the meaning of the poem....
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