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By Seamus Heaney. Digging Between my finger and my thumb The squat pen rests; as snug as a gun. Under my window a clean rasping sound When the spade sinks.

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Presentation on theme: "By Seamus Heaney. Digging Between my finger and my thumb The squat pen rests; as snug as a gun. Under my window a clean rasping sound When the spade sinks."— Presentation transcript:

1 By Seamus Heaney

2 Digging Between my finger and my thumb The squat pen rests; as 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 could 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, digging 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.

3 Between my finger and my thumb The squat pen rests; as snug as a gun. Why does Heaney use this simile? How can a pen be used as a weapon?

4 Between my finger and my thumb The squat pen rests; as snug as a gun. Heaney uses this simile to express his belief that he can use his pen instead of a gun, as a weapon. It shows a new belief that you do not always have to use violence to achieve your goal. Even if you do resort to physical fighting there is no guarantee that you will win.

5 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. Highlight any onomatopoeic words What effect do these words have upon the reader? What kind of a picture is Heaney creating?

6 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. onomatopoeic words: these words depict the image of the act of digging. ‘Gravelly’ ‘Gravelly’ contains a number of meanings ‘Gravelly’ How do we know Heaney is remembering? “twenty years” “twenty years” “rhythm”

7 “Gravelly” is symbolic in that it refers to the One Crop Law that was imposed on Ireland by England. This law was later blamed for the famine that struck Ireland when the potato crop failed. Heaney shows the ground as ‘grave like’ because it was the physical cause for the famine. The soil retained too much water resulting in the potato crop rotting. This left the Irish with no crop to eat. The message in the word ‘gravelly’ is therefore ambiguous and educates the reader of the hardships Irish farmers faced from the English oppressors. This is an example of the pen as a weapon.

8 “Twenty years” - watching his father digging in the flowerbeds brings back memories of him working in the potato fields. This memory is what the author is choosing to document, British tyranny towards the Irish. And by documenting this unfair treatment, the author is using his poetry as a weapon.

9 “Rhythm” is intended to parallel the plight of the Irish with an image of a slave as part of a chain gang doing hard labour. During slavery, the slaves would create songs and sing them to the rhythm of their work. This would break the monotony and also alleviate some of their stress. Here Heaney is saying that the Irish were captives and their unfavourable task was to cultivate the potato fields.

10 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 could 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, digging down and down For the good turf. Digging. What makes us think Heaney admires the art of digging and farming? How does Heaney convey a sense of time and injustice? Is there a sense of futility throughout this section?

11 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 could 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, digging down and down For the good turf. Digging. This is a particularly descriptive and emotional section of the poem where Heaney displays his love and admiration for digging and farming. He uses alliteration to create delicate and powerful images for the reader. By choosing words with few syllables he creates an artistic view of the simple act of digging potatoes By pointing out that his father could dig as well as his grandfather gives the reader a sense of time, informing the audience of just how long this unjust practice had been taking place for. Digging is paralleled with the rebellion in that their acts are getting them nowhere but into a deeper and deeper situation.

12 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. What does Heaney mean by “living roots awaken in my head”? Is he disappointed at not being able to work the land? What does he mean by he’ll “dig with it”? V’s

13 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. V’s Heaney is not letting his father’s actions die a futile death. Instead he has made his father’s memories seeds in his mind, very much alive, at root in his existence. Heaney is disappointed that he can’t ever be like his father or grandfather, however he doesn’t provide the reasons why in the poem. However at the end of the poem there is a real sense that he knows what he can achieve as an individual.

14 This final line is open to much interpretation. It is a confident statement where the idea of using a pen to dig is very similar to that of a newspaper reporter uses a pen. It is the job of a journalist to uncover hidden information so that it can be known. This is exactly what Heaney wants to do in his work and has accomplished in this poem. He has unearthed the cruel policy of the One Crop Law and in doing so, has provided a contemporary audience with an understanding of the conflict between the British and the Irish. Digging and writing do have strong parallels, in that a writer digs in their mind and that digging and writing are both constructive processes. The former digs in order to get nourishment for the body, as a writer writes for nourishment of the mind. For Heaney the pen is a weapon to speak out for what he believes in. Between my finger and my thumb The squat pen rests. I'll dig with it.

15 The End


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