2 Table of Contents Author Explication Literary Terms Personal Analysis Critical AnalysisWorks cited
3 Seamus Heaney Born 1939 in Northern Ireland Digging 1966 in Death of a NaturalistSon Of Cattle farmersFather’s family more ruralWhile his mother’s family is more industrial
4 Digging (1966) Explication Poem Stanza’s 1,2 &3 Between my finger and my thumbThe squat pen rests; snug as a gunUnder my window, a clean rasping soundWhen the spade sinks into the gravely groundMy father, digging I look downTill his straining rump among the flowerbedsBends low comes up twenty years awayStooping in rhythm through potato drillsWhere he was diggingAt my desk I’m holding my pen tightlyIn a memory I hear someone digging outside my bedroom wind. It’s my father.Making synchronized holes in the ground for potatoes
5 Digging (1966) Explication Stanza’s 4, 5, and 6 The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaftAgainst 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 handsBy God, the old man could handle a spade.Just like his old man.My grandfather cut more turf in a dayThan any other man on Toner’s bogOnce I carried him milk in a bottleCorked sloppily with paper. He straightened up to drink it, then fell to right awayHe used his legs to push up and down while digging. He buried the potatoes that we just pick. We loved the way they felt.My father was the best at what he did. He learned from my grandfatherMy grandfather cut grass faster than anyone else in town. I brought him a drink once and he took a sip . After that he went right back to work.
6 Digging (1966) Stanza’s 7, 8, & 9 Explication Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sodsOver his shoulder, going down and downFor the good turf. DiggingThe 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 thumbThe squat pen rest.I’ll dig with it.Cutting the grass and throwing it over his shoulder. Going down in the soil to find a good spot for planting.The smell of potatoes brings me back. I’m not following in their footprints.Back at the desk with my pen. I’ll write my poems with it.
7 Literary Terms Poem is free verse “Just like his old man.” (Enjambment)“Through living roots awaken in my head” (Connotation)“The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap/ Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge” (Imagery)“When the spade sinks into the gravelly ground.” (alliteration)The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.” (simile).
8 Personal AnalysisDefense of his occupation: “Between my finger and my thumb/ The squat pen rests; snug as a gun”Taking Risks/ Going out on your own: “Between my finger and my thumb/ The squat pen rests/ I’ll dig with it.”Proud of heritage: “By God, the old man could handle a spade. Just like his old man.”
9 Critical Analysis“As much as ‘Digging’ is about the gradual displacement of rural life, about a young writer’s experience of being torn between the lessons of his upbringing and the dictates of his formal education” (Meyer).“Heaney’s own poetry, this poem suggests, can become a new link in the seemingly broken chain of tradition that might connect the rural labor of the grandfather and father with the more intellectual and reflective work of the writer” (Miller).“By analogy, he credits them with preparing the way for his kind of digging” (Rich).
10 Works Cited Google Images Heaney, Seamus. “Digging.” Death of a Naturalist. Ed. London: Faber and Faber, 1966.Meyer, Carolyn. “Critical Essay on ‘Digging’.” Poetry for Students. Ed. Mary Ruby. Vol. 5. Detroit: Gale Group, Literature Resource Center. Web. 16 AprMiller, Tyrus. “Critical Essay on ‘Digging’.” Poetry for Students. Ed. Mary Ruby. Vol. 5. Detroit: Gale Group, Literature Resource Center. Web. 21 AprRich, Morton D. “Critical Essay on ‘Digging’.” Poetry for Students. Ed. Mary Ruby. Vol. 5. Detroit: Gale Group, Literature Resource Center. Web. 16 Apr"Seamus Heaney - Biography". Nobelprize.org. 1 May 2013