Slides in this set
Between my finger and my thumb By God, the old man could handle a spade.
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun. Just like his old man.
Under my window, a clean rasping sound My grandfather cut more turf in a day
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground: Than any other man on Toner's bog.
My father, digging. I look down Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
Till his straining ramp among the flowerbeds To drink it, then fell to right away
Bends low, comes up twenty years away Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills Over his shoulder, going down and down
Where he was digging. For the good turf. Digging.
The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Against the inside knee was levered firmly. Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep Through living roots awaken in my head.
To scatter new potatoes hat we picked But I've no spade to follow men like them.
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.
Between my finger and thumb
The squat pen rests.
I'll dig with it.
= Seamus Heaney 1939
· 'Digging' represents Heaney's ancestral background and the
different career path he took as a writer, not a farmer like his father.
· He would have liked to have continued the family generation and
wishes for his relatives to not be disappointed with him as he is
more interested in writing than digging.
· The poem explores the respect Heaney holds for his heritage.
· Heaney explores the parallelism between his father and grandfather'
s strength as working men and his place as a writer.
· He strongly expresses his deep depression of how he feels
ashamed of himself not becoming a farmer as expected.…read more
STRUCTURE Stanzas, Breaks, Effects
MOOD Tone, Emotions, Change of Mood
Personification, similes, themes, imagery,
LANGUAGE Alliteration, Rhetorical Questions, Features,
Repetition, Rhyming Patterns, Onomatopoeia sounds
EFFECT Reader's Thoughts and Feelings from Poem…read more
· In the first half of the poem Heaney's memories show a
vivid description of his father farming.
· Stanza four is separated to stanza six by a short lined
stanza with informal language. By mentioning Heaney's
grandfather the reader is prepared for the next half of the
· The second half his grandfather is mentioned which tells
the reader the farming career has been passed on
through the family generations.…read more
· Seamus expresses his emotional feelings
towards his family. He is ashamed of how he
ruined the family farming tradition.
· The mood of the poem changes at the end of the
poem as the reader feels sympathetic for
Heaney's realisation of him not following their
footsteps is shown.…read more