Digging by Seamus Heaney

Notes on Digging by Seamus Heaney

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  • Created by: Hannah
  • Created on: 18-04-11 16:34
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First 452 words of the document:

Main Ideas
Generational ties, and how families often follow in traditions
The idea of trying to live up to your ancestors, and how it is best to find your own area of
expertise, as there you will have most power
Respect of parents, and how they inspire you
Digging into the past, and discovering family history
Pride of his father and grandfather, and how good they were at digging
Regretting that he is not following the tradition to begin with, then later determination that
he is still able to, just in a different way
Love of his father and grandfather, expressed through his admiration
9 stanzas of random length, no predictability, perhaps representing our memories, and our
history and future are unstructured, without pattern or predictability.
Circular with fist and last stanza very similar, showing that digging into his family roots has
provided him with a deeper sense of who he is, instead of altering it.
Enjambment between 2nd and 3rd stanza takes reader back twenty years, with the break
showing the passage of time.
Rhyme in first two stanza, then without, could suggest he is trying to find a pattern of where
he fits into the digging, but later he realises he can find his own way of digging and does not
have to follow tradition
Blunt title, have to read all of poem to see how all generations are involved in digging
Begins present tense, then past, than back to present, until last line which is future
Technical terms to show the precision of his father and grandfather's work
Repetition of "old man" suggests affection between all three generations
Simile "snug as a gun" shows how well the pen fits his hand, and how powerful it is in his
hand. Later father described with "boot nestled on the lug" showing his spade fits him
Penultimate stanza, alliteration of "s" gives sibilance creating an unpleasant sound.
Alliteration of "c" gives idea of the precision and skill required. Also sensual description, with
onomatopoeic words creating image of mud and unpleasantness.
Repetition of "dig" and "digging" gives idea of the constant action of digging in this family,
and how it is almost part of who they are
Alliteration throughout showing action of digging- the slicing, grounds resistance etc.
Some internal rhyme, such as "ing" sounds, creating echo, and also sound of constant


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