Summary and Response to “Digging” by Heaney, Seamus

Effective Images in Seamus Heaney’s “Digging”

The poem “Digging” by Seamus Heaney is a recollection of the persona’s childhood and present memories. In this poem, the poet efficiently utilizes audio-visual images as well as the persona’s voice to convey his message on hard work. The persona acts as a narrator and tells the story of the family’s heritage on hard work. He nostalgically remembers how grandfather used to dig for long hours without resting. Moreover, the poem focuses on the relevance of expertise in enhancing ones profession.

Similarly, the father also works hard in his farm, with the sound of his shovel a constant reminder of his commitment to farming. While the grandfather represents the past, the father represents the present. The blood connection between the two signifies the poet’s attempt to connect the past and the present. This also illustrates that farming is an age old profession, but still relevant, despite the waning popularity.

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The persona admires both the grand father and the father whose rhythmic movements vivify the extent to which the two men are committed to their work. However, the persona acknowledges that writing is as useful as farming. This also shows a shift from occupations that require physical skills to occupations which require mental skills.

The poet uses audio-visual image and makes the reader perceive farming as a primitive occupation. However, the persona is proud of the father and the grandfather’s commitment and vows to work s hard as his forefathers. The reader learns vital lessons from the poem. Success is not instantaneous but achieved through sustained effort. One has to work hard over long period of time before realizing the benefits of hard work.

Furthermore, commitment and determination are key success factors. Thus, audio-visual images combine well to develop Heaney’s message on hard work. In the poem “Digging”, Seamus Heaney uses audio-visual images efficiently to deliver his massage that success only comes through hard work. Audio-visual images appeals to the reader’s senses of sight and sound through creative use of language. The persona hears “a clean rasping sound/ when the spade sinks into gravelly ground” (Heaney 2-3).

These images of sound allude to the fact that the sound of the shovel not only wakes the persona from his physical sleep but also to reality. The persona realizes that his father works hard all his life. Furthermore, the poet uses the image of sigh to capture the repetitive nature of hard work. The persona looks down the window and catches the sight of his father as he “Bends low, comes up twenty years away/ stooping in rhythm through potato drills” (Heaney 5-6).

Through this image, the reader visualizes the persona’s father deeply engrossed in his work. This image also portrays that hard work involves routine activities. Furthermore, while the terms “bending” and “coming up” explicitly illustrate routine, the term “drill” further enhances the extent of routine. The potato drills compares to an electric drill, which performs repetitive circular motion to make a hole into an object.

Through this image, the reader appreciates the magnitude of routine exercises. The image of sight further reveals the enormity of hard work. The persona watches in admiration as his grandfather tirelessly “heaving sods over his shoulder” (Heaney 22). Through this image the reader visualizes the grandfather lifting heavy tuffs of grass over his shoulder and realizes how tiring the experience is. The poet successful delivers his message on hard work through the use of images.

While the poem contains various types of images, audio-visual images combine well to enhance the poet’s message. The sound of the fathers shovel sinking into the ground and the sight of the grandfather heaving up heavy sods vivify hard work. Therefore, audio-visual images the reader appreciates the real meaning of hard work.

Works Cited

Heaney, Seamus. “Digging”. New Poetry Works: A Workbook Anthology. Ed. Robin Malan. Claremont: new books Limited, 1997. 90. Print.