By Seamus Heaney
Digging is a poem by Seamus Heaney. A first person poem that consists of 9 stanzas of varying lengths from two to five lines. In this poem, Seamus Heaney shows how his family traditions are being left alone. He wrote this poem as he goes down his memory lane while sitting on a desk, holding a fat tiny pen between his fingers which he describes is “snug as a gun”, which is imagery of a pen ready to fire its bullets. The “squat pen” on the other hand symbolizes the family trade changing from holding shovels between their hands to holding pens. The poet uses imagery as he show us a picture of his father digging down outside his window with a shovel digging through the ground “a clean rasping sound… into gravely ground”. Heaney says his father digs a grave, “his straining rump amongst the flowerbeds”. Midway, comes a flashback two decades back in time where his father and he were busy farming “stooping in rhythm through potato drills”. Heaney describes the enthusiastic spade work with “the bright edge deep” and its essential yield of natural and emotional treasure “new potatoes that we picked/ loving their cool hardness in our hands”. Heaney shows his pride and respect, sworn an oath on god. Now he not only talks about his father only, but also about his father’s father, his grandfather. His grandfather, a turf cutter was the fastest at his job. He’d cut more turf in a day than any other man. As Heaney takes refreshments for his grandfather as a daily routine, he uses diction “corked sloppily with paper” which shows pouring liquid, this symbolizes a drop/fall in the old man’s life and saying that his work time has passed. It’s time for him to rest. The use of digging is now metaphorical, as his grandfather shows hard work and dedication by digging “down and down” for him there were no shorts cuts to “the good turf”. As Heaney says “I’ve no spade to follow men like them”, he agrees to the fact that he has destroyed the family tradition...
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