Analyse Two or Three of Heaney's Poems to Show How Common Things Are Raised Up to Angelhood
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Heaney's first anthology Death of a Naturalist is the best source for poems that show how common and often mundane things are described in beautiful language and rediscovered as meaningful activities. "Digging", Blackberry-Picking" and "Personal Helicon" are prime examples of Kavanagh's words.
When reading the name of the poem "Digging", it seems like it will be about nothing at all. Digging is a basic and ordinary activity and the reader does not expect anything meaningful when reading the poem. This is deceptive, because the first two lines present readers with a sense of choice. Heaney immediately makes them aware of the deeper issue of the subject he is about to explore and therefore creates an alertness in them.
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He digs with such intensity that he rests only to drink a bottle of milk before returning to his task. The grandfather's professionalism is contrasted to Heaney's clumsiness, because he brings his grandfather a bottle of milk "corked sloppily with paper" (20).
It is clear that the seventh stanza is no longer about digging. It is about something far more significant. Heaney remembers the act of digging and it is no longer poetic. He describes the smell of potato mould as "cold" (25) and the sounds are no longer clean and precise. This sudden reality of the messiness of digging implies that Heaney is no longer referring to the activity, but rather is returning to the violence of the first stanza. The choice he gives is the pen or the gun and in the last line of the seventh stanza Heaney states that he has "no spade to follow men like" (28) his father and grandfather.
Ultimately. Heaney chooses the pen over the gun and therefore poetry over violence. The last stanza shows that Heaney has faith in his poetry to make a difference. He believes that it can solve problems that can not be resolved with a gun.
"Digging" is not a poem about an ordinary and simple activity, but rather a metaphor of choice between poetry and violence. "Blackberry-Picking" is similar in its function, but broaches a different subject.
Again the heading names a simple and ordinary