Digging: Poetry Essay

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“DIGGING” written by Seamus Heaney is a lyric poem that portrays a vivid recollection of the writer’s early life through the hard working generations of his family. The early lines of the poem describe childhood memories of his father and grandfather who made a living by potato farming and turf cutting. Throughout the poem the writer often refers to how hard they worked and how good they were at what they did “By God, the old man could handle a spade, just like his old man”. Through these statements he shows the pride he has in having such hard working roots but further goes on to explain that this is not the kind of work for him and how he prefers to do his digging with a pen.

This poem is a free verse poem with eight stanzas containing two couplets. In addition, there is no consistent rhyme scheme, although it has some rhymes: “thumb” and “gun” (in the first two lines); “sound”, “ground” and “down” (in the second stanza); and “men like them” (line 28).
Moreover, it is written in first person narrative; we can see that in the first line of the first stanza: “Between my finger and my thumb”.

On the surface the poem “Digging” seems to be exactly that, a poem about how the writers early generations were hard working labourers. On a deeper level, the poem discuses the change from generation to generation and how working long hours of vigorous work is slowly becoming a thing of the past and how people are leaning away from the spade and turning toward the pen to get things done. In the last stanza of the poem the writer finishes with “Between my finger and thumb the squat pen rest. I’ll dig with it.” This is a very powerful statement as it plays off the old say “the pen is mightier than the sword” and infers that digging is the old way of getting things done and society is becoming too advanced for that kind of work. The poems main message can strongly be applied in today’s day and age as a good education is required for nearly all jobs including what is now considered “hard labour”. The poet writes how “no spade to follow men like them” meaning that today’s generation must realize the importance of education because a person can no longer function in today’s fast pace world without it. The advances of civilization and the way we work and think can be clearly demonstrated throughout the poem even though it only outlines 3 generations. The grandfather was a very serious and hard worker because that was all he knew how to do “He straightened up to drink it, then fell to right away nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods over his shoulder, digging down and down for the good turf. Digging” The father although still a hard worker enjoys what he does and even has his children helping him in a playful manner. The