Seamus Heaney Digging Essay Outline

Comparing Digging and Follower by Seamus Heaney Essays

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Examine two poems, Digging and Follower by Seamus Heaney and then compare the poems, explaining both their differences and similarities.

The first poem I am going to examine is "digging" by Seamus Heaney. I will first comment on the title of the poem. "Digging" has both a metaphorical and literal meaning to it. The literal meaning is that his father and his grandfather are farmers. The poem talks about the men "Digging" and working, so this explains the literal meaning of the poem. The metaphorical meaning is that Seamus Heaney is "Digging" into his past and back round, which is farming. So, the title is rather effective. Now I will examine the rest of the poem.

Firstly, I will look at, and comment on, the first stanza. In…show more content…

This makes his father sound very professional. It sounds as if he wants us to admire his father. Once again, the word "digging" is repeated in the literal sense.

The first line of the fourth stanza also implies that his father was very professional by using technical words such as "lug" and "shaft" and then again in the second line; "levered firmly". In the last line of this stanza, tactile imagery is used. It reads "loving their cool hardness in our hands"

The fifth stanza is only two lines long, and is said in a rather conversational tone; as if Seamus Heaney is speaking it in a general conversation. It isn't like a poem at all. It says "By god the old man could handle a spade". He is boasting here, like a child in a playground. It conveys a boastful, bragging tone. "Just like his old man" sets in motion the chain of memory.

The sixth stanza starts of in the same boastful tone as the fifth stanza was. "My grandfather cut more turf in a day, than any other man on Toner's bog". This is also said in a conversational tone. He seems very proud of his grandfather, just like he does his father. His grandfather must have been good at his job. He then contrasts his grandfather's work, by explaining of how he carried in a bottle of milk to his grandfather once, "corked sloppily with paper". It seems as if he doesn't feel that he is as good as if father and grandfather were. Once again, in the seventh stanza, the word "digging"

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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.

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