Roots By Seamus Heany Essay

567 words - 3 pages

Seamus Heaney was born in 1939 in Northern Ireland. Heaney wrote Death of a Naturalist in 1966. Death of a Naturalist included the poem “Digging”; it is the first poem of the collection. “Digging” is a free verse poem written in first person narrative. Digging contains eight stanzas containing two couplets. In Seamus Heaney’s poem “Digging” the narrator is comparing his digging to his ancestors. The theme is heritage; the narrator takes a look back at his heritage to examine his career choice. Heaney shows the theme using symbols.
Using digging as a metaphor for writing, Heaney shows the connection of the narrator with his early life on the farm and the lives of his father and grandfather.In the first stanza, Heaney introduces the readers to the narrator’s pen, which the narrator is content to hold as he ...view middle of the document...

The narrator is, in his form of digging, always searching for topics or good materials that can make his pieces unique and meaningful, just like how his grandfather continued digging for “the good turf” (L24) as he digs at the bog.
His decision to be a writer creates a divide between the narrator and his father, as implied when he observes his father digging through a window. The window stands in as a “physical separation” (Rich) between father and son, yet it also symbolizes to the “psychological divide” (Rich) that built up in their relationship when Heaney decides to follow “his dream as a writer” (Miller). As he thinks back in time, he thinks of his father digging, and having the boot on the “inside knee”. The knee represents a “man’s authority” (“Knee”). He sees his father as an authoritative figure, and wishes to have his respect as a writer.
The narrator goes into the past, and examines his heritage as he begins to write, and realizes that his career is not much different than his ancestors career. He digs with his pen to find material to write; while his ancestors used a spade to dig for potatoes. The poem teaches the reader to pursue a career they are passionate about, and not to do the work that their ancestors did just because it runs in the family.

Works Cited
Heaney, Seamus. “Digging”. Introduction to Literature. Ed. J. Madden. New York: Pearson,
2010. 3-4. Print.
“Knee”. Penguin Dictionary of Symbols. 2nd Edition. 1996. Print.
Miller, Tyrus. "Critical Essay on 'Digging'." Poetry for Students. Vol. 5. Detroit: Gale Group, 1999.
Literature Resource Center. Web. 2 June 2012.
“Pen”. Dictionary of Literary Symbols. 2nd Edition. 2007. Print.
Rich, Morton. "Critical Essay on 'Digging'." Poetry for Students. Vol. 5. Detroit: Gale Group, 1999.
Literature Resource Center. Web. 2 June 2012.

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