Poetry Analysis Of The Digging English Literature Essay

At the beginning, Heaney maybe sit in the room then “a clean rasping sound” under the window makes him think of his father. Next stanza, it’s nature to “comes up twenty years away”. This is a time his father is alive and work hard in his digging. After the memory of his father’s digging, he moves to his grandfather by using “By God” and “just like his old man”. The same with the former, the poem describes the hardworking situation of his grandfather’s digging. The penultimate stanza and the last stanza reveal the theme more or less.

“Through living roots awaken in my head.” is the important point of the poem. From the poem, Heaney looks back the past and digging his profession, his family, his roots, even his country.

2. Describe the form of the poem and discuss why you think Heaney uses it. (3 marks)

The form of the poem is free verse poem and it’s written in first person narrative, with eights stanzas containing two couplets. The free structure of the poem give Heaney more room to express his thought freely about digging his profession, his family, his roots, even his country. There is not actual and regular rhyme and rhythm. But there are some eye rhyme and alliteration in the poem. The eye rhymes are “pen & gun”, “buried & bright”, “cold & mould” , “curt & cuts” and so on. The using of eye rhymes makes the poem look beautiful, neat and comfortable. Moreover, the alliterations are “buried & bright”, “squelch & slap” and “curt & cut” and so on. Both eye rhyme and alliteration are good for reading and memory. And alliteration also creates beautiful rhyme, reading like music.

Especially, the using of “pen & gun” suggests a simile: the pen is might be a gun; the pen might have the power to protect, save or develop something. Secondly, the “buried & bright” makes the description of the father’s hardworking in the field vivid and visual. Therefore, we can know Heaney’s respect for his hardworking father. Thirdly, the “cold & mould” and “squelch & slap” also have important effect on the emotion expressing: because all of the four words are negative, they may provoke our mind. It means those situations awaken Heaney’s memory at this time.

Finally, there is a repetition in the poem, the first stanza and the last stanza. The memory begins with the first “Between my finger and my thumb” and ends with the similar one. It suggests that there are an extended metaphor of digging and roots. It’s a clue in the poem as well.

3. Discuss the poet’s use of the following: simile, alliteration, repetition. (6 marks)

Simile is that the pen is a spade or a gun and writing is digging. From “The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.” and “The squat pen rests. I’ll dig with it”, we can get the simile. The pen is a gun suggests that he may want to protect and develop his new life as a writer. From the poem, we know that the career of farmer may be a family tradition, but Heanay breaks it and chooses to be a writer. So, he needs a gun to protect his profession. The pen is a spade suggests that Heaney realizes that his writing with the pen is comparable to that of his forefathers with a spade. He also realizes that he can continue his own new career with the land he is proud of through his writing.

The alliterations are “buried & bright”, “squelch & slap” and “curt & cut” and so on. The using of alliterations makes the poem looks beautiful, neat and comfortable. They are good for reading and memory. And alliteration also creates beautiful rhyme and makes it read like music. The “buried & bright” makes the description of the father’s hardworking in the field vivid and visual. So, we can know Heaney’s respect for his hardworking father. Thirdly, the “cold & mould” and “squelch & slap” also have important effect on the emotion expressing: because all of the four words are negative, they may provoke our mind. It means those situations awaken Heaney’s memory at that time.

There is a repetition in the poem, the first stanza and the last stanza. The memory begins with the first “Between my finger and my thumb” and ends with the similar one. It emphasizes that there are an extended metaphor of digging and roots. It’s a clue in the poem as well.

4. The poem uses an extended metaphor. Identify it and discuss how it allows the poet to develop his themes. Identify at least 2 themes. (8 marks)

It’s apparent that there are an extended metaphor of digging and roots from the “The squat pen rests. I’ll dig with it”. It’s the clue and the key point of the poem. Firstly, we can identify the theme that Heaney thinks his writing with the pen is comparable to that of his forefathers with a spade. He respects his forefathers, for which we can get the evidences like the lines “loving their cool hardness in our hand”, “My grand cut more turf in a day than any other man on Toner’s bog”, but he chooses a new field with his good skill and “digging” the land through his writing. That’s digging his family, especial the family tradition. Further, because his forefathers work hard in digging, for which we can get the evidences like “Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up to drink it, then fell to right away”, he gives an indication that he will follow his forefathers to work hard to creates more good works. What’s more, from the lines “Under my window” and “My father, digging. I look down” at the second stanza, I guess that there may be a value distance between Heaney and his forefathers. On the one hand, because he accepts more education and work in writing, he “look down” his forefather’s farm. On the other hand, he breaks the career chain in his family tradition, so he isn’t accepted and supported by his forefathers. That’s why his pen is a gun to protect something. But at the end of the poem, according to the line “through living roots awaken in my head” the gap disappears.

As for the second theme, he may dig the history of the country, because of the mention of turf. Now Ireland is only one of the countries left in Europe that still has turf bogs. For Heaney, he may want to “digging” the historical past to give the meaning to the present. As a writer, he wants to show he can transfer memories in the paper and give the old thoughts the power to transcend time.