Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Heaney: Digging

After reading the background information on Seamus Heaney, Digging has a very full feel. The intro explains where Heaney gets his ideas for writing these bog poems. The poem uses a geneological history to glorify his father and grandfather... paying reverence to their skills in life. But not of how great people they were, or what great things they achieved. Rather, he paid homage to their skill of doing what was needed in life, like cutting sod for fuel in their homes. Also, the bog poems are inspired by the bodies found in bogs of Northern Ireland. They were the bodies of men who died for the Mother Goddess in ancient times. Heaney equates that to men who die for Mother Ireland trying to win her independence.
The first thing I noticed about the style of the poem is that it isn't completely rhythmatic. Many poems that deal with monotonous work, like digging, have a very strict rhythm, alluding to the rhythm that is gained when doing such chores. But this poem is quite different. In the first stanza, the first line is a solid 8 syllables; the second line is 8, but divided into two sets of 4. But the stanzas are not uniform, the vary in length from 2 lines to 8 lines, and the syllables per line as well. The rhyme scheme is loose, using slant rhymes occasionally, and sometimes stanzas are written in free verse, giving the poem a feeling of an amagamation. Lots of individual things put together to make one work. In my eyes, I see this as the dirt. Some of the sod is grass covered, some is dark, some light, some is heavy and dense, others are loose and light. Some clods are large, others are small. Just like the dirt, the stanzas and lines give the feeling of the mixture being brought together within in one single work.
Heaney ends the poems saying.
"But I've no spade to follow men like them.
Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I'll dig with it."

This final ending alligns all three men in the poem. The writer is living in a different time and place from his father and grandfather, and needs not to go cut sod for fuel, instead, he writes to make his living. His writing is his occupation, and by doing his job as his father and grandfather did, he will achieve personal greatness in life.

No comments: