English Lit - At a Potato Digging

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At a Potato Digging


  • In this poem Heaney looks at man's relationship with the land - the cultivation of the potato is a way into Ireland's social history.
  • First Section (Stanzas 1-4) - Describes a potato digging in the 1960's
  • Second Section (Stanzas 5-6) - Looks closely at the potato
  • Third Section (Stanzas 7-10) - Examines the Irish potato famine
  • Fourth Section (Stanzas 11-12) - Describes a potato digging in the 1960's


  • 'Spins up a dark shower of roots and mould' - Vivid image of the power of the machine over the land, Mans power over nature?
  • 'Swarm' - presents the vast number of workers involved.
  • 'Stand/Tall' - Enjambment at this and other points suggests the unending nature of work.
  • 'attacking' -  the labour is again referred to in terms of a battle
  • 'Tall for a moment' - proud for a moment and enjoying a short break
  • 'soon stumble back' - the respite is brief and they 'stumble' back to work, emphasizing the exhausting…


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