The second stanza, on the
first line reads, “under my window, a clean rasping sound”, the
word `rasping` is onomatopoeic and includes the reader, enhances
there ability to imagine the scene. The next line, Heaney also uses
alliteration to describe his dad digging and onomatopoeia to describe
work on the farm, “When the spade sinks into gravely ground. Buried
the bright edge deep,” here Seamus Heaney has used our old friend
the poetical device alliteration to create in the reader’s mind a
vivid picture of the noises you would hear if you happened to be
living on or visiting a farm. The ‘G’ sound from: gravely, ground
convey in the reader’s mind the sense of the gravely ground being
On the third stanza, Heaney writes on the first line,
“Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds”, where the word
`straining` suggests that he is old and hard at work. Line two says,
“Bends low, comes up twenty years away”, on the end of that line
it tells the reader that digging has been his life, and that he has
been doing it for twenty years. Third line reads, “stooping in
rhythm through potato drills”, the word `stooping` suggests that he
is quite old.
The next stanza, first line, “The coarse
boot nestled on the lug, the shaft”, the word `nestled` shows us
how easily digging was for his father and the next few lines read,
“Against the inside knee was levered firmly. He rooted out tall
tops, buried the bright edge deep, to scatter potatoes that we
picked, loving their hardness in our hands”. That whole stanza
enables the reader to imagine the scene more vividly, due to the
detailed step-by-step instructions.
Here in this poem Seamus
Heaney does not use a uniform structure and there is no rhyme. Like
in, “Mid-term break,” Heaney has used colloquial terms to create
a conversational tone, “By god, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.” The language and structure of this poem
could represent Heaney’s random thoughts. It’s as through he is
casually talking to his friend expressing his pride in the skill of
his father as a farmer.
Next stanza, first two
lines, “My grandfather cut more in a turf in a day, than any other
man on Toner’s bog”, those first couple of lines have a definite
change of tone, which suggests that now he is proud and sees digging
as impressive-family tradition. The final three lines of that stanza
say, “Once I carried him milk in a bottle, corked sloppily with
paper. He straightened up, to drink it, then fell to right away”,
show the skill and admiration for the grandfather, also he never
stopping and always digging, which is very important to him.
seven, begins, “Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods”, which
contains an abundance of verbs there, which that give depth to his
work and show how busy he was. The next two lines, “Over his
shoulder, going down and down, for the good turf. Digging”. Again
that underlines the fact that digging is his life.
In stanza eight, the first
line, “The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap”,
that opening lines contains onomatopoeic words; squelch and slap.
Second line, “Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge”, continues
with onomatopoeias `squelch`, `slap` and `soggy` and together with
those words the reader can imagine the scene precisely. The final two
lines, “Through living roots awaken in my head. But I’ve no spade
to follow men like them”, show how he feels that he cannot dig and
does not feel he can follow in their footsteps. Does he not have the
ability and strength of his father and grandfather?
At the end of the poem we are
reminded that Seamus Heaney fells more comfortable with his pen than
a spade, “Between my figure
and my thumb, The squat pen rests. I’ll dig with it.”
The structure of
the Seamus Heany poem, “Digging” is very interesting and
intriguing because it has
no uniformed structure. The
verses or stanzas are irregular with some being short two line verses
stanzas and others being
longer. Heany uses short verses or stanzas to summarise simple but
points, and longer verses or
stanzas to go into more detail about specific people, e.g. his father
The theme of this poem is
based on the family, skills, the man’s world, admiration as well as
identity. Skills are based on what the poet explains whereby the
father and the grandfather are fathers. He goes further to say that
he does not fancy writing but he admires the hard work his father
portrays. This therefore leads to the other theme being portrayed.
The whole poem talks about the male gender that is the poet,
grandfather and the father. This therefore is explaining how the
man’s world is and the way they have to toil to support the family.
The family entity is also seen as the poet is speaking about people
he is related to.