Home Digging

Digging

Digging by Seamus Heaney is a warm poem as he thinks back to his father and his grandfather. They were obviously practical, physical men, as Heaney describes how they were both hard labourers who worked outdoors.

Ireland’s 100 favourite poems
Seamus Heaney

Heaney ends the poem by pointing out that his skill is writing and instead of using a spade to work like his father did, he uses a pen.

Seamus Heaney Digging

Digging by Seamus Heaney. Image copyright Ireland Calling

Digging

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down.

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner’s bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
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.

Seamus Heaney Reads His Poem, ‘Digging’

Digging by Seamus Heaney. Image copyright Ireland Calling

Click here to buy on Amazon

Seamus Heaney


More popular articles and videos

The mystery of what Maureen O’Hara whispered to make John Wayne look so shocked





Meghan Markle can trace her family tree back to Ireland




Matt Damon winning hearts and minds with charm assault on Ireland





Cork trio perform best Irish dance video of the year




Action hero Tom Cruise was once attacked by an old man in a Kerry pub





Celebrate with the top 10 Irish recipes

Liam Neeson speaks about his late wife in emotional interview





Dating site explains why Irish men make wonderful husband material





How to become an Irish citizen




Billy Connolly says public should ignore politicians and listen to comedians




Take a look inside Hollywood star Saoirse Ronan’s stunning Irish home