Digging (Seamus Heaney poem)

Digging (Seamus Heaney poem) Summary

In Seamus Heaney's poem "Digging," the speaker reflects upon his father and grandfather's experiences as farmers, presumably in Ireland. The speaker himself has become a writer in recent years, but he describes the act of digging with wonder. In the poem, he moves from describing his father to describing his grandfather, who tilled a different kind of land. He remembers himself as a child holding the potatoes, as well as bringing his grandfather milk.

The speaker half-mourns, half-celebrates his departure from the long line of farmers. The poem commemorates the past, and it commends hard work. The speaker compares writing to digging, saying that he will dig with his pen; this indicates how highly he regards farm work, though the poem does not deal head-on with related issues like class, poverty, and inequality; nor does it explain how the speaker got to the position he occupies. Nonetheless, the poem stands as a deceptively simple celebration of farm work and work in general.