Seamus Heaney "digging" and "follower".A commentary.
In the poem entitled "Digging", Seamus Heaney sensuously chronicles the cultivated art of Irish potato digging. His father mastered the art; he was the Rembrandt of digging. The reader can hear the sound of the spade as it pierces the earth with "a clean rasping sound." (Heaney 161) The sound of the spade is felt as well as heard. Heaney firmly places the reader's foot on the spade when he writes, "The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft Against the inside knee was levered firmly." (p 161) Not only is the art of digging invigorating, but also we learn it is emotionally satisfying when Heaney says, "Loving their cool hardness in our hands." (p 161)
If Heaney's father was the Rembrandt of digging then his grandfather was surely the Michelangelo. Once again the reader is treated to a wonderful, sensuous set of lines:
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper.
He straighten up
To drink it, then fell to right away." (Heaney 162)
The "mould", the "squelch" and "slap" of "soggy peat" are all words that take the reader into the Irish potato field with the striking sparseness only a good poet can command. (Heaney 162)
All this expressive use of the language is not the main purpose of Heaney's poem. The more personal message he is attempting to convey is contained in the first and last stanzas. Heaney begins by saying, "Between my fingers and my thumb The squat pen rests; snug as a gun." He ends with the same two lines and adds, "I'll dig with it." Heaney's profession as a writer may be different from his father and grandfather, but the dedication and love he feels toward that profession makes Heaney the next generation...