Digging

I have a Funeral Mass in the parish this morning.  Last night the son of the man we will bury later today, told me his father loved cutting turf – the old-fashioned way – and used to talk about the season he cut “thirty-six trailer loads”.  I looked today to see if I could find a poem or a verse about turf-cutting and came across this piece, “Digging”, by Seamus Heaney.  I’m not sure I could do it justice but thought I’d share the clip here.  It’s well done and might bring back a few memories for some.  Enjoy!

TEXT OF POEM – “DIGGING” by Seamus Heaney

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner’s bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.

One Comment:

  1. Class poem

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