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Digging Analysis



Author: poem of Seamus Heaney Type: poem Views: 38


Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging.  I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner's bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper.  He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf.  Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I've no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I'll dig with it.


Anonymous submission.

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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||




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I gots sum baby wipes to clean up ur poo on ur legs...

| Posted on 2012-10-29 | by a guest


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I pooed myself help me please it falling down my legs.

| Posted on 2012-05-23 | by a guest


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dis is sum propere sound poetry man. i is like entranced by his magical words, i forever bow down to you bro

| Posted on 2012-04-19 | by a guest


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I think the title of the poem is actually symbolizing his process in which he tells us about his life and gets us involved in his forefathers life. In a way we ourselves through analyzing have been DIGGING for the rich potato of this poets life that has been needed to be unearthed, thus sharing his father\'s and grandfather\'s achievements allowing him to not feel guilty but instead proud.

| Posted on 2012-02-27 | by a guest


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There is no guilt I this poem heaney wants to write about his forefathers

| Posted on 2012-02-15 | by a guest


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I feel that Heaney does not only feel guilty for not carrying on his fathers legacy but also a hint of jelousy as he does not posses the skill to farm

| Posted on 2011-08-12 | by a guest


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To me,in its(DIGGING) simplicity lies its beauty. SHUVO BANGLADESH

| Posted on 2011-08-12 | by a guest


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to me i feel that this poem is very emotional and stresses how ur family members can put pressure on you and not letting you follow your dream and that they do this unintentionally causing great pressure to a child which could lead to a lifetime of unhappiness and this can show how something as silly as digging can be seen as amazing just because the father and grandfather did this when in fact it isn\'t that important and the child wants to do much more with their life that can fill their hearts!!!

| Posted on 2011-05-23 | by a guest


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Alliteration is used in stanza 2, \"spade sinks\" and gravelly ground\" Heaney creates a sense of what it might be like to dig. Creates onomatopea
Whole poem is a extended methaphor. Major linquistic technique.

| Posted on 2011-05-21 | by a guest


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also i think the words \"snug as a gun\" implie that he is well-within his comfort zone whereas his father and forefathers worked solidley in undesirable conditions for survival, perhaps Heaney feels both humbled and yearning for a greater sense of his fathers drive. but through the medium of literature, which is alien to his father whose digging is alien to heaney.
Kani

| Posted on 2011-03-19 | by a guest


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Seamus Heaney\'s poems are beutifully written as they flow without distraction. The only thing that I have found difficult so far with the analysis is the language techniques are well hidden besides the obvious onomatopia \"squelch\", \"slap\",etc., and the opening simile \"snug as a gun\". Anybody with other language techniques, they would be well appreciated.
Australia :)

| Posted on 2011-03-08 | by a guest


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the poem is written in a circular structure. it ends like how it starts. \"snug as a gun\" is a simile as well as being a metaphor. the comparison of pen to a gun could imply that a pen makes him feel very comfortable and that its like his defence weapon. they both have a sense of action, and once untouched they can be innocent; but when used they can be extremely dangerous.

| Posted on 2011-02-20 | by a guest


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There is a video montage of Seamus Heaney on youtube reading this poem. To the person who didn\'t get the slap & squelch part, you really have to listen to the poem;sometimes we forget that poems must be read aloud. To an earlier poster, there are 6 counties, not 4, in NI under the banner of the Union Jack. Sandra

| Posted on 2010-12-12 | by a guest


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There is a video montage of Seamus Heaney on youtube reading this poem. To the person who didn\'t get the slap & squelch part, you really have to listen to the poem;sometimes we forget that poems must be read aloud. To an earlier poster, there are 6 counties, not 4, in NI under the banner of the Union Jack. Sandra

| Posted on 2010-12-12 | by a guest


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I think that this poem is very clever in its own way, however confusing at some points it is a good idea. Especially the way he is trying to get out of the guilt trap of trying not to go down his fathers and grandfathers past.
:D

| Posted on 2010-09-27 | by a guest


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DAT BAI DEY IS WAN STAR BAI
DE POEM GOOD MAN
DAT MAN KNOW HOW FUH PRAPPA RIGHT MAN
ME LIKE DIS MAN !

| Posted on 2010-09-22 | by a guest


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\"Digging\" is the first poem in Heaney\'s first book: \"Death of a Naturalist,\" which was published in 1966. Heaney grew up Northern Ireland, a land still contested by ethnic factions, conveniently, but not so accurately, reduced in the news to \"Protestants\" and \"Catholics.\" So far in his poetic career (I\'m writing in 2010) Heaney has never forgotten his historical and geographic roots. It is part of the background of this poem, in which the pen is first compared to a weapon in the tight, assonant phrase \"snug as a gun.\" (Assonance - the same internal vowel sounds, as in \"snug\" and \"gun.\") Heaney shows admirable artistry in making this comparison in four syllables - \"snug as a gun\" held together by the strong assonance of \"snug\" and \"gun.\"
There is a strong thread of political poetry in Ireland; poets and priests were among those executed for their participation in the \"Easter Rising\" of 1916, which eventually culminated in the establishment of the Republic of Ireland, independent of Great Britain, although four counties in Northern Ireland remained part of Great Britain, and the conflict has not yet ended there. Irish poets whom Heaney admired early in his schooling (and continued to admire), such as William Butler Yeats, wrote a good deal of very political poetry.
\"The pen is mightier than the sword\" is a commonly used English phrase, picked up from an 1839 play about Cardinal Richelieu by Edward Bulwer-Lytton. Heaney opens the poem with the possibility that he may, like many great Irish poets, use his pen as a \"sword\", a weapon in an ideological war.
But instead, Heaney \"looks down\" to what is deeper and more vital, the very earth, the actual, physical soil and mystical soul of Ireland, to that which preceded and continued through the battles, skirmishes, assassinations, ambushes, occupations, crop burnings, house burnings and dispossessions that occurred during the 800 years of British occupation of Ireland: the need for food - the potato - and the need for warmth - the peat used for fire. Political changes sweep through, beloved people die, brother turns against brother, but the needs of physical life continue.
The potato is not a neutral foodstuff here, but evokes the Irish potato famines of the mid 1800\'s, when disease rotted the potatoes country-wide, and more than a million Irish, especially in Western Ireland, died of starvation in The Great Hunger, and at least another million emigrated in The Great Irish Diaspora.
A deep bitterness toward the British was exacerbated by the Potato Famine. British landlords exported tons of wheat from Ireland in those years, while native Irish tenant farmers, who had subsisted largely on potatoes, because potatoes are easy to grow, starved.
Great Britain, while claiming political sovereignty over Ireland, did almost nothing in the way of famine relief. British newspapers, cartoons and books of the time actually portrayed the Irish as sub-human.
The conflicts in Northern Ireland will haunt Heaney\'s future poetry. He will meet the ghosts of friends who died, will remember going through British Army check-points and the fear of bombs set off in public places. He will continue to ask himself what role he, as a poet, should play in the conflict.
In 1972, Heaney, with his wife Mary and son Christopher, moved south to the Republic of Ireland, after \"Bloody Sunday\" in Derry, the county in which Heaney was born. His daughter Catherine was born in the Republic in 1973.
At the end of the poem, Heaney makes clear that he will not use his pen as a sword, a weapon, but as a tool to excavate \"through living roots\" to that which is buried in each of us. He does this deftly by using the local, the parochial - \"My grandfather cut more turf in a day / Than any other man on Toner\'s bog\" to remind us that the world is made up of parishes.
I don\'t read any guilt in this poem. I read a pride that Heaney feels at the physical competence of his father and grandfather, and a hope that their skill at physical labor can be translated in him into competent literary labor. Certainly, biographically, Heaney\'s parents and extended family were proud of their son, one of nine children who worked hard at school, and through a combination of work and skill, won scholarships that brought him in contact with other Irish writers. And Heaney returned again and again in his poetry to Mossbawn, the family farm, for the words and feelings of his childhood.
Later collections of his poetry bear titles such as \"Field Work\" and \"Opened Ground.\" The process of \"digging\" into himself and his native ground continues to yield \"nourishment\" and \"warmth.\"
In 1995, Heaney won the Nobel Prize for Literature. I was happy at that, but it\'s an abstract thinbg. I don\'t know if that would have meant as much to the people among whom Heaney grew up as being the man who \"cut more turn in a day / Than any other man on Toner\'s bog.\"
Best,
Elizabeth
Wife to the man who ate more corn on the cob at the 1955 Harvest Festival in Hamburg, Michigan.

| Posted on 2010-08-24 | by a guest


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Wow, I'm 15 and i'm going to be in ib next year. This site has been really helpful.

| Posted on 2010-07-11 | by a guest


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The structure of the poem represent the family tradition. The number of lines of the poem is 2-3-4-5-2-5-3-4-3. We may divide it into two parts. The regular one is 2-3-4-5 and the irregular one which is 2-5-3-4-3. The regular one may emphasise his forefathers' job as farmer. As on his generation, this profession is no longer favored, yet it is still respected highly, shown by the use of diction "By GOD." and the irregular number of lines of stanza 5 to 9.
p.s. this web help IB guys =)

| Posted on 2010-07-01 | by a guest


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The poem "digging" is a metaphor for writing. The author reflects on his father and grandfather as hardworking labourers. The author writes down the page while his ancestry went deep into the dirt. Moreover, when you have to dig deep for the good stuff in digging, you have to dig deep for the good stuff for writing something well. It seems the author is suggesting that hard work is important, no matter what line of work you do. Just do it well.

| Posted on 2010-06-21 | by a guest


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This poem is about seamus heany feeling guilty about choosing a different life path than that of his father and grandfather. he is digging into his memories with his pen to try convince himself that he made the right choice of ignoring his families craft and choosing his own life skill.i admire seamus heany for being brave and taking the chance. without it we would not have many great works of poetry today (:

| Posted on 2010-06-08 | by a guest


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Digging is a poem i can relate to as my brothers and father are civil engineers and im not sure i want to be one

| Posted on 2010-05-26 | by a guest


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I really enjoyed studying poems by heaney rather than gillian clarke.

| Posted on 2010-05-22 | by a guest


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"DIGGING the first poem of Heaney is a synecdoche, of sorts, for the poet entire oeuvre. It is a poem bases upon a childhood memory that is recollected in vivid detail. The memory often recalls as a rite of passage, epyphany, or wordsworthian 'spot of time' that either confirms or disturbs the poet's sense of self. The poem's diction is concrete, sensual,and relatively simple and is shaped by the poet's adept use of dialect,sound devices. The dominant image 'Digging'functions as an analogy for the writing process. Digging into the past, into myth and history. The poem points to Heaney's preocupation with origin. Heaney manages to mechanize the human spirit to come to life in the form of hid father and his grandfather. The past and the present become one, with the common bond the honest work of the Irish poor.
HEANEY's sensual loveof his native ground, his fascination with work and all kind of toos,his vision of poetry as a traditional laborious,and sustaining craft, like farming. the most important thing about 'digging' however, is that it takes the form of a promise, a committement from the poet to his father and grandfather whose lives were spent literally digging the soil. Heaney acknowledges that he is not a farmer, and will not follow their vocation. But he vows to translate their virtues into another kind of work:
the cold smell of potato mold, the squelch and slap
of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
through living roots awaken in my head.
but i've no spade to follow men like them.
between my finger and my thumb
the squat pen rests
i'll dig with it.
Nadhufou Ibrahima Tabibou

| Posted on 2010-05-22 | by a guest


.: :.

the poem Digging recollects his past memories regarding his forefathers profession. past memories sometime gives
inspiration to people as to Seamus Heaney. his choice to become a writer is a reflection of his inspiration from his forefathers. but in a very different way

| Posted on 2010-04-30 | by a guest


.: :.

the poem Digging recollects his past memories regarding his forefathers profession. past memories sometime gives
inspiration to people as to Seamus Heaney. his choice to become a writer is a reflection of his inspiration from his forefathers. but in a very different way

| Posted on 2010-04-30 | by a guest


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I think it is about how he thinks he wont amount to anything because his dad and grandfather farmed and he writes but he thinks he can still b something so he would dig with his pen (try to be like his grandfather and father) he would dig with his pen so he would be like them hard working and great but in a different way.

| Posted on 2010-04-25 | by a guest


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Heaney is effectively "digging" his memories at the instant he begins to write, he looks out his window and starts reminiscing about his past, he then becomes enthralled in guilt because he did not follow his grandfather, and fathers path, which leaves him feeling guilty and below them, he feels his forefathers were great men and he is not, however he still speaks of his pride in his own choice in a "pen is mightier than the sword" kind of way
Hope it helps guys :)
jacky - Scotland x

| Posted on 2010-04-21 | by a guest


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I am reading this poem from a marxist perspective. Does anyone see political or economic issues that I do not see?

| Posted on 2010-03-24 | by a guest


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I believe that this poem is about digging up Heaney's past child hood memories, hence the name "digging", the name is also a link to his father's potato profession. I'm 13 and analysing this poem for school.

| Posted on 2010-03-21 | by a guest


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Poem is good for the young people to remember the life of our forfathers in the past centuries.

Tharchen Rigsel

| Posted on 2010-03-19 | by a guest


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Being an Irish Catholic, one can hardly expect Heaney to remain perpetually aloof in his poetry.Born in a country whose sons were either potato farmers or soldiers, he was uncertain about his place as a poet in a martial society-"snug as a gun".In his poem 'Casualty' he says he was "politic/and shy of condescension" of his "tentative art".If ever there was a poet insecure about his choice of life... well Heaney takes the cake.However interestingly enough, It was in "Digging" that Heaney first found his wings.To him it was the first poem "where [he] thought [his] feelings got into words".Thus over and above showing his immense respect for his elders' skills at digging,Heaney also wished to convey that he would help the Irish cause in his own literary manner.
Just thought I'd add that point :)

| Posted on 2010-03-12 | by a guest


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the person who asked about the "toners bog" heaney is bringing across pride and belonging and being also territorial. :)

| Posted on 2010-03-08 | by a guest


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The message in this poem is Heaney is feeling slightly Guilty for not following the footsteps of his father in becoming a farmer instead he became a writer. The guilt is brought arcross as Heaney is breaking a agricultural tradition in his family.
The techniques Heaney uses in this poem are onamatopoeia "Squelch" for example.
Also in the second last verse Heaney uses a listing device.
Also he uses lieration "curt cuts" whichgive added ethisis.
Heaney also uses roots to describe his family roots. x thank you :)

| Posted on 2010-03-08 | by a guest


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This website is awesome. It makes my life so much easier. especially when the IB is killing us.

| Posted on 2010-03-04 | by a guest


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This poem is an extended metaphor...
Although the poet does not physically dig with a shovel or spade he digs with his pen, into his memories and extracts a poem about his fathers' and grandfathers' skill.
"Digging"

| Posted on 2010-01-25 | by a guest


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How is the theme age represented in this poem - give me more ideas...
Thanks

| Posted on 2010-01-04 | by a guest


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hiya im analysing this poem now for my homework :D
Thanks guys ! i was bit struggle with it but now i think is easy ^^... .

Poland/Uk

| Posted on 2009-11-30 | by a guest


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This poem compares his life to that of his father. He looks at the skill of his father and sees that he can never do what his father is so skilled at “digging”. He describes in fine detail the art and mechanics of digging potatoes and the ease at which his father can do it.
He compares the skill of his father digging potatoes to that of his grandfather digging in the bog, a completely different skill. Again he described in fine detail the art of digging turf and the sights and sounds that are part of it.
The wonderful line that shifts time lines from the present , where he looks at his father perhaps clearing up a gravel path “comes up twenty years away” to him digging potatoes.

In the second last verse a line from each generation is compared and tells him that his that his only skill is to “dig with his pen”
He knows that he can never be as good with a spade and feels that he is more comfortable with a pen. (snug as a gun)
Repeating the lines in the last verse confirms this comfort and confirms his only way to match their skill is to “dig with his pen”
I like to think this poem has that simple message. I hope you agree !
Someone asks about “ Toners bog” This is the name of a local bog, (a family name called Toner )
JohnO

| Posted on 2009-11-13 | by a guest


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Hey, for the German conundrum: Use a translator. google is good.
Anyway...I love the sense of smell, and aura of the dirty potatoes. They remind me of home, and the fox outside my window sill. I want everyone to know, that Heaney is greater than Gordon Brown.
I love you guys. I feel like Im part of the Heaney family now. Thank you. Thank you.
Bartimunly, Poland x

| Posted on 2009-09-11 | by a guest




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