Seamus Heaney and Linking
Seamus Heaney was born in County Derry in 1939.
He was the eldest of nine children and grew up on a farm which still used a number of traditional farming methods; this can support the poems Digging and At a Potato Digging and Follower as these describe in great depth a farming environment and in addition to this, includes a vast amount of technical terminology such as: 'lug' and 'shaft' on lines 10 and 11 within the poem Digging.
Many of Heaney's poems were influenced by his Catholic upbringing and the conflicts of Northern Ireland at the time.
Heaney's titles were often simple, however, each individual poem is usually about more than the heading suggests; a number of poems include hidden metaphores such as Digging - both the first and last stanza refer to a pen suggesting Heaney is in fact digging into his past with his pen by simply jotting down memories, furthermore, Heaney also uses a simile: ' the squat pen rests; as snug as a gun.' A similie such as this suggests power, the power of writing, and this is continued into the last stanza where Heaney closes the poem informing the reader 'he'll dig with it'. By analysing this, us as the reader can understand that Heaney's tool is not a spade, but a pen; his hopes lie with writing, even if that may be writing about his father's hopes for him to become a successful and skilled farmer.
In many of Seamus Heaney's poems, the past and the present are juxtaposed; he believes that the past directly influences the present and future, so both the past and present are listed side by side in a number of poems. Often, he 'digs' into the past in order to explain the future, which may also suggest he wishes to make sense of the person he has become and why that may be.