Seamus Heaney Comparative Essay

A Comparison Of Seamus Heaney's Mid Term Break And Digging

A Comparison of Seamus Heaney's Mid-Term Break and Digging

I am comparing two poems by Seamus Heaney- `Mid-Term Break` and
`Digging`. Both of the poems are written about his childhood and his
family.

The first poem I analysed was `Mid-Term Break`, where the simple and
straight forward title `Break` caught my attention suggesting to me
that this poem is going to be a positive experience, a break from
work, a time to relax.

The commencing stanza, the first line reads, ?I sat all morning in the
college sick bay?, which has connotation of depression, illness and
suffering suggested from the word `sick`. Also with the reference to
college the reader gathers that the boy is in his late teens. Second
line, ?Counting bells knelling classes to a close?, the word
`knelling` in that line is associated with funerals and death so we
get the feeling that something might be wrong and gather a sense of
foreboding at what is to come. The final line, ?At two o?clock our
neighbours drove me home?, is unusual, why are his neighbours driving
him home and not his parents? The question why are his parents driving
him home this increases the sense of foreboding. Also there is falling
rhythm in this stanza.

In the second stanza, the line begins, ?In the porch I met my father
crying?, and this confirms to the reader that something is wrong, that
something tragic has happened. The second line mentions that he takes
`funerals` in his stride, so that says to me that he?s attended quite
a lot of funerals even though he?s not that old. The final line, ?And
Big Jim Evans saying it was a hard blow?, leads me to believe that Big
Jim Evans is a close friend and also that he is quite large suggested
by the adjective `Big` to describe him. Again there?s falling rhythm,
at the end of each line, which adds to sorrow.

The first line of stanza three, ?The baby cooed and laughed and rocked
the pram?. The baby?s actions of laughing and cooing are in contrast
to everyone around him/her, because it doesn?t know what?s going on,
furthermore on the second line he mentions about being embarrassed
this is the result of his father crying and shows the sons age. Third
line, ? By old men standing up to shake my hand?, the boy?s
embarrassed by,

`old men standing up to shake my hand` which is ironic because usually
it would be respect to his elders, the boy shaking their hands, so
this is holding the reasons from the reader.

The word `Trouble` in the first line of stanza four, which comes
across a minor word, but as we?ve been getting the feeling there?s
something quite seriously wrong-death? death is something major. Third
line- ?Always at school my mother held my hand?, he is

now being comforted by his mother as she?s holding his hand, he is
also comforting his mother at the same time.

Stanza five, commences, ?In hers and coughed out angry tearless
sighs?, the word tearless suggests to me that she?s cried too much and
the death has...

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Comparing Digging and Follower by Seamus Heaney

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Comparing Digging and Follower by Seamus Heaney

Here we will analyse 2 poems by Seamus Heaney called "Digging" and
"Follower". We will look at the similarities and differences between
these poems. In both these poems Heaney puts emphasis on many subjects
related to his life such as his childhood memories of growing up in
Northern Ireland and the conflict there. His father also features
strongly in both poems as a main influence on his life.

We will be analysing the two poems form and content. The content of
the poems reveals much about Heaney's life and by comparing the form
and content of the two poems, we can uncover much about Heaney's
feelings and style of writing.

The poem "Digging" was written by Seamus in 1964 and was one of the
first poems he wrote. This poem is about a man looking down on his
father digging in the garden both now and in the past. He reminisces
about moments in the past of both his father and grandfather digging
potatoes. This is a family tradition, however one that he can not
continue with in the literal sense, but by writing poems and "digging"
with his pen, he continues the tradition.

"Follower", was written later than "Digging" and in many ways follows
on from it, but this period of time is conveyed by the differences in
the writing style. "Follower is about Heaney's dad ploughing the
fields, much in a digging manor, with himself "following" behind. This
poem shows his father as someone he can look up to in life. The poem
goes into description about the ploughing of the land showing his
father as an expert in this field, however, he is left unable to
follow in his fathers footsteps and turns to writing instead.

The similarities and differences of these poems are uncovered when the
form and content is studied closely. If we start with the similarities
in the content we can see many things and these similarities convey
the continuation from Digging to Follower.

Both contain childhood memories, mainly of his father and references

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to digging. In "Digging" we can see how he looks down on his father
digging in the garden and this moment takes him back 20 years:

"Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds bends low, comes up
twenty years away"

Here Heaney is reminiscing about the past and how his father used to
be, digging for potatoes. He uses the word "straining" to show how his
father is now getting old and tiresome, but continues to dig. He
reflects back on the past and how his father used to dig with great
expertise.

In much the same way, "Follower looks back on his father working with
the horse plough with Heaney following behind, watching his father
digging in a different way:



"My father worked with a horse plough"
======================================

Again his father is digging in a different way but he continues to
watch his every move conveying his father's expertise. The word
"worked" is key as it shows that his father no longer has the strength
to continue what he loved to do so much and had obviously done for
many years before. As Heaney looks back on his childhood, he remembers
every detail in his mind, following the actions in his head as he digs
to remember it.

Both these poems are revolved mainly around Heaney's father. In
"Digging", his father is in the garden digging as he looks down:

"My father, digging."

He sees his father digging and he remembers how he used to watch him
20 years ago to the very same thing. The way his father digs is
described in great detail as he remembers it in his head. It is
possible that this is one of the few memories he has of his father
from past times and this is why he remembers it so well.

"Follower" is also based mainly on Heaney's father and his memories of
him. In "Follower", Heaney follows his father around watching what he
does taking note of everything as if he were to do this himself.



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