Digging In Those Harsh Days Essay

Submitted By ChenYunWen
Words: 1287
Pages: 6

Digging in Those Harsh Days
Chen Yun-Wen
World Literature
Mr. Livingston
Critical Essay

Every family has its own different story about love. The affections of father to son or son to father might be complicated; however, it is certain that parents will always have a deep affection to their children. The poems “Digging” and “Those Winter Days” indicate the feelings of speakers as they were children and also the loves their fathers gave. The family stories in these poems are different in details, but their emotions toward their fathers have both changed from negative to realizing the deep affections they were given. In the poem “Digging”, the speaker grows up to be a writer and looked down his father in his childhood. Yet through the memory which he was reminded by sounds of his father digging in the garden, he finds back his family root and the way to earn the same admirations as his father and grandfather. In addition, the poem “Those Winter Sundays” talks about the love and scarification the speaker’s father has given and by contrast the indifferent attitude the speaker reacted to him, but at the end of the day, he knows the disbursement his dad has done and understands the love’s austere. Although they share a similar theme, through narrative, music and imagery, we can still easily see the differences and similarities in “Digging” and “Those Winter Sundays” of how they convey their emotions and stories. Utilizing multiple devices, while Robert Hayden focuses more on the relationship between the speaker and his father, Seamus Heaney extends the theme to inheriting his family tradition in “Digging”. In the beginning of “Digging”, the scene is in the present tense when the speaker has grown up to be a writer, despised his father who was an uneducated farmer, but later on being touched by all the memories bumped up from childhood. Throughout the poem, Heaney uses polysemy to manage the atmosphere and situation well. For instance, in the line “I look down till his straining rump among the flowerbeds”, the word look down has two different meanings; one is the sightseeing from up to down, and the other one is the contempt toward his father because of his occupation. Also, “Bends down” in the third stanza not only has the meaning of an action, but a low attitude to the ages. The speaker’s father was in his mid-age and was no longer able to do heavy labours, however, since his family believed keeping digging is the only way “for the good turf”, in order to raise his family and support his kids to study, he has to keep working hard because “no pain, no gain”. Furthermore, in Heaney's poem there are more layers. Since the speaker's grandfather grows turfs and his father grows potatoes but he is a writer, he felt incompatible and lost in the family tree. However, after he suddenly fell into memories he has about his family, he knows what to do. "I've no spade to follow men like them" shows his confusion of his root and tradition, but by saying "Between my finger and my thumb the squat pen rests. I'll dig with it." Even though he is not a farmer, he decided to follow what he wants to be and use his own way to earn respect like what his family did. What the heritage is never comes to be substantial or directly the career, but the tradition spirit of life that he will dig down for everything he wants. By the time when the father in Heaney’s poem is working on the farm so hard for his kid, Hayden, using the skills of developing scene and contrast, expresses a father’s love thoroughly as well. While the father in “digging” bends low and works hard, the affection is the same in Hayden’s work that the speaker’s father has also helped him without caring his dignity; he even polished his son’s shoes. Even on Sundays morning, the only day for the speaker’s dad to rest, he would get up so early no matter how cold the weather is in order to light up the house and warm his family. After everything is set, he then wakes his kid up and