Seamus Heaney

Rookie (April 13,1939 - August 30, 2013 / Castledàwson, County Londonderry)

Digging - Poem by Seamus Heaney

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.

Comments about Digging by Seamus Heaney

  • Gold Star - 26,491 Points Kim Barney (9/4/2015 4:29:00 PM)

    Wow! Such vibrant images this poem evoked for me. I'm going to read more of his works. He has just become one of my favorite poets! (Report) Reply

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  • Gold Star - 31,001 Points * Sunprincess * (9/4/2015 8:44:00 AM)

    ..............great poem, poignant and wistful ★ (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 9,513 Points Rahman Henry (9/4/2015 8:09:00 AM)

    Seamus was a wonderful poet. And this poem is one of his signature poem. I like it, I enjoyed this poem a lot. (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 49,298 Points Fabrizio Frosini (9/4/2015 7:57:00 AM)

    'snug as a gun'.. a great similitude.. (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 13,361 Points Ramesh T A (9/4/2015 12:37:00 AM)

    The poet chooses the pen instead of spade unlike his forefathers! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points Leon O'hagan (10/2/2014 6:49:00 PM)

    Good man Iain......let me know when you publish your book - i'll be sure to buy a copy! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie iain Robb (3/14/2014 4:30:00 PM)

    A classic piece of near line-broken prose rubbish, by a tin-eared old bore who will be forgotten just as soon as the next poet comes along willing to write odes to potatoes, and machines for cutting up turnips. Sadly, there's too many of those about, but hopefully our current editors will all be replaced someday by people with a sense for real poetry. In the meantime, let's just enjoy the utter inaptitude of an allusion between a spade and a pen. (Report) Reply

    Gold Star - 7,640 Points Francis Lynch (9/5/2015 7:24:00 AM)

    Poor baby. When you publish, pass the spade.

  • Rookie May Obrien (10/30/2013 8:12:00 AM)

    i adore this poem, it's so delicious to the ear; it's so vivid and clear. [3 (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 3 Points Shouvik Roy (7/3/2012 1:06:00 PM)

    the squat pen rest.. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 5 Points Reuven Goldfarb (5/13/2012 12:05:00 PM)

    The main problem with this generally useful list is the frequent typographical errors that some people make when entering a poem. Mistakes in copying can be corrected by careful proofreading and comparing the original text (assuming that it's accurate) with the copy. I should think that the two errors in the second line would be obvious. (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Poem Edited: Monday, May 6, 2013

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