Digging For a Living

Digging For a Living

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Digging For a Living  

In his poem "Digging," Seamus Heaney describes a unique relationship between a boy and his father.  Their relationship closely relates to the one I have with my father.  Throughout the poem, the poet's pen is contrasted with the father's spade, using each as a symbol of their vocation and background.  Along the same lines, the relationship between my father and myself can be expressed through my keyboard and his pencil.

 Heaney's poem tells of a boy and his father who have different callings for their career.  The father has worked on the family's farm his entire life, digging up potatoes and keeping up the farm.  The poet describes his father's digging, as the title infers, with alliteration from the line "Under my window, a clean rasping sound when the spade sinks into gravely ground: My father, digging" (3-5).  The poet, on the other hand, would much rather be writing stories or novels than out in the field doing manual labor all day.  The father digs physically with his hands while on the contrary, the son digs mentally with his brain.  Heaney uses a spade to symbolize the father's ambitions, thus, representing his farm work.  He metaphorically describes the son's writing with the passage, "Between my finger and my thumb the squat pen rests" (29-30).

 My father and I share the same type of relationship that Heaney and his father have in the poem.  My father is an architect and designs buildings for a living.  He spends most of his day at his drawing table, sketching plans for new buildings.  On the other hand, I have a job that involves using computers most of the day.  He uses his pencil to get the job done, while I use my keyboard to get the job done.  When I was younger, he always wanted me to be an architect with him, but now he accepts the fact that I am not going to be an architect because I have a sufficient job in the computer field.

Throughout Heaney's poem, diction highlights certain words and phrases that require extra emphasis.  For example, in the line "The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft against the inside knee was levered firmly," the words chosen intensely impact the meaning (10-1).  Lug, shaft and levered all intensify the line.  Furthermore, most of the words are parts of a gun, which is another metaphor used.

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  Having a sense of precision, a gun is compared to the father's and the son's definitiveness in their lines of work.  The gun is also metaphorically compared to the two with a sense of survival.  The father and grandfather farm for a living to support the family and the son writes to make a living.

Heaney would look down on his father from his window and see him working in the field while he was writing.  He respects him; however, he realizes that working in the field is not the best thing for him.  In the same way, I respect my father and his job, but in a way, feel that I am glad that I did not become an architect in this technological generation.

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