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A Comparison Of Seamus Heaney's Poem Digging And The Song Of The Old Mother, By William Butler Yeats

1599 words - 6 pages

I have looked at the poem 'Digging' by Seamus Heaney. The poem is
about the poet digging into his past and appears to be a modest poem.
The "nicking and slicing neatly" that Heaney says in his poem can also
apply to the crafting of a poem. Heaney seems unhappy and distanced
from his farming family roots however he shows a good amount of
admiration for farming men. Heaney shows the skill and dignity of
labour. The expertise is rather admired than the strength and the
technique is very precisely explained. He constantly has memories of
common places, which very few people would notice, but Heaney thinks
that these memories should be recognised. He is frustrated at how
different he is to his family. Maybe in those days writing poems may
not have been seen as manly.

I am going to compare this poem 'Digging' to another poem which is
called 'The song of the old mother' written by William Butler Yeats.
First of all in Heaney's poem he is talking about himself as a child
to his grandfather, while Yeats is talking about the older people to
the younger generation.

"My grandfather cut more turf in a day,

Than any other man in toners bog."

This quote shows that Heaney was talking as a child to his
grandfather.

"And the young lie long and dream in their bed."

This quote shows that Yeats is talking about the younger generation
and by calling them young she is implying that she is significantly
older than the people she is referring to.

In both poems they describe heavy manual work, but in 'Digging' they
love doing the work that they do and in 'The song of the old mother'
she is unhappy and bitter that she has to scrub, bake and sweep.

"To scatter new potatoes that we picked,

Loving their cool hardness in our hands."

This quote shows that they love the end result of what they do.

"And then I must scrub and bake and sweep,

Till stars are beginning to blink and peep."

In this quote the tone of her voice would be low and depressed because
she must scrub and sweep till stars begin to blink and peep which
means she has to work till late at night.

The young people in 'The song of the old mother' do not care for what
the old mother does for them but Heaney is determined to dig with his
pen and remember his roots.

"And the young lie long and dream in their bed."

This quote also has another meaning, for this comparison the quote
means that while the young lie long and dream they still take granted
for what the old mother does for them.

"Over his shoulder, going down and down
for the good turf. Digging."

This quote is showing that he is digging and digging into his past and
trying to remember his roots.

In 'The song of the old mother' the structure of the poem looks tight
like her life could have been as in those days women weren't...

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