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Seamus Heaney

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Digging is brilliant
Added by: Laurence Brace
i love this poem so much. My mum reads in the mornig to me, at lunch ,at tea time and in bed. I just cant get enough of this fabulous poem. It is so good. Heaney is a master. I find somethin new everyday!
Added by: Catherine G
Heaney's poems are an incredible insight INTO the culture of Ireland and his desire to 'dig' (excavate) th e history of ireland and preserve it for future restoration. Heaney's poems reflect a brilliance and a mastery of this tool to educate the aspiring poets of society's youth.
Digging and Follower
Added by: AM
If, in 'Follower' Heaney describes his wish to be like his father, in 'Digging' he writes about the fact that he chose a different path by becoming a poet.

Just as he did in 'Follower', in 'Digging' Heaney describes his father with great admiration for his strength and skill as a farmer. The careful, deliberate, way his father cuts INTO the earth with his spade makes digging for peat sound like a skilled craft:

"The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft

Against the inside knee was levered firmly."

It is a craft that was practised with great expertise by his grandfather; again, Heaney's choice of verbs is both precise and effective, as he describes his grandfather's easy skill in "Nicking and slicing neatly".

The poem is full of the sounds of work precisely described. The hard 'g' sounds of "digging", "gravelly ground", "snug", "lug" and "soggy" have an onomatopoeic effect in making vivid the sound of the spade sinking INTO the hard ground. If Heaney's father and grandfather were skilled with the spade, Heaney himself is skilled with the pen.

The colloquial "By God, the old man could handle a spade." brings INTO the present the traditional family activity and shows us the poet's sense of pride in his family past. However, even though it is a tradition that Heaney has decided not to continue, he sees a certain similarity between his family's digging with a spade and his own 'digging' INTO his past with his pen, through writing. I think that it is possible that Heaney has insisted upon the similarity between his ancestors' skills and his own in ORDER to lessen any guilt he may have felt in breaking the tradition. Thanks to his skills as a poet, Heaney will not have to carry out the physically hard work of cutting turf. This is not a cosy poem about digging the earth; it is more about digging oneself out of the earth, about pulling up the "living roots " that "awaken in my head".

Both 'follower' and 'Digging' explore Heaney's sense of his own place in the family tradition. However, in 'Follower' he seems content to register that his life has turned out different FROM his father's, but nevertheless feels great love and admiration for him. In 'Digging', the distance between him and his family seems greater. There is the same affection and admiration, but there is also a much greater emphasis on the poet's own skills and identity, a much greater awareness of the difference between the worlds of pen and land.

Added by: emily
i started this poem in my english lesson i don't like poetry but these poems have changed my mind i like it now. im doing for my gcse coursework so i hope i do well!!
heaney's poetry and "Digging"
Added by: sarah mugullen
where to begin...
i found this poem by Seamus Heaney lame and a sad excuse for poetry. Who cares about ireland and potato famine -- not me. i have read several poems in my time (54 years old) and this is everything LESS than exceptional to my taste.
i would not suggest this poem to anybody. do not read this if you have any taste what so ever!
lots of love
heaney's masterpiece
Added by: melanie
this poem is extroadinary - as some of the other critics i began analysing it for an english project but it really captured me and i loved it. Poetry to me is dull and strange but this is not.
Heaney scores big with me on this poem. If you havent read this poem then you must -- for all types of readers.
Added by: Katie
i was assigned to write an essay on this poem and i found it absolutely disghusting! the poem is horrible. just thinking about it angers me. it's a disgrace to poetry. seriously- if you have the option, don't read it!
Added by: Ankou
Well, I'm doing many many HEaney poems for my igcse (which is in 3 day *panic*)... I think his poems are great, there are so many things in them to analyse! You can take each word, write a whole load of jibberish on what that word means, symbolises and conveys. It's great! All of them have such a deep meaning! I love Lovers on Aran and Waterfall, brilliant peoms. But really, this whole collection is extraordinary!
Added by: Rose Bush
Having been forced to read Seamus Heaneys poems i have come to the conclusion that his work is DULL!!! Who cares about farming and his quest to find a place in the world. The only good poem is Limbo out of the twenty Heaney poems i have read. Please Mr Heaney STOP WRITTING. PUT DOWN THE PEN!!
to all those critics
Added by: Ciaran
I just want to say something to all those people who have criticised heany's poetry on the basis of him writing about the famine and farming. Being irish i can really connect with these topics and believe that heany has writen about something which he feels has great importance in irish society. I have studied heany and also poets of other nationalities, and i can say i couldn't connect with their themes, (eg Elizibeth Bishop, Silvia Plaith). but i don't go around telling people not to read their poetry cause they might just connect with it!!!

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