In this poem, Heaney seems to use his father’s and his grandfather’s digging into the the homeland ground as a comparison to his writing and development of his poetry. Heaney’s father and grandfather use their shovels to work with the land, while Heaney uses his poem to work on his ideas to write poetry.
The narrative voice in this poem is first person narrative throughout the poem. This is proven already in the first lin, in the first stanza:
”Between my finger and my thumb”. The narrative voice may very vwell be Seamus Heaney himself. Seamus mentions ’turf’ in the fifth stanza. Ireland is on of few countries left in Europe that still have turf bogs. There is an obvious link to his country.
The poem is written in free verse. This form of free verse allows the poet a freedom for subtle rythmic variety, for example using assonance, or making words look like they rhyme.
In the fist stanza the opening focuses our attention to the fact that this is set in present time. It is creating the beginning of the memories being told by the poet. Heaney uses the word ’gun’ in relation to his ’pen’. This may tell the reader that you do not need to use violence to achieve your goal. ’Snug as a gun’ is also a paradox, it refers to how he picks up the pen and gently rests it in his hand, waiting to write. The next lines indicate that Heaney is sitting inside, working with his poem, when he suddenly hears his father start working, ’when the spade sinks into the gravelly ground’. The first dig is tough, and his father has to work really hard, this is similar to when Heaney starts to write his poem. He must dig into his mind. Heaney uses his words carefully. Such as ’rasping’ and ’gravelly’, this is images of the act of digging. Heaney plays with the language throughout his poem by using images that appeal to our sensen like sounds, sight, touch and smell.