“Digging” by Seamus Heaney

(For text, click on this link: Digging by Seamus Heaney : The Poetry Foundation.) Seamus Heaney (1939-2013) was an international treasure, a native of Ireland, and a longtime professor at Harvard. His poem, “Digging,” contrasts his own work of writing, with his father’s manual labor. I thought it would be a nice follow-up to Grace Paley’s, “The Poet’s Occasional Alternative.”

My habit–these past four days–has been to 1) post the poem here; then 2) write it out in my notebook; and then, 3) try writing my own poem, using the original as a kind of model. One way to do this is strictly, so if the poet begins with an adjective, you begin with an adjective, then a noun, and so forth. But another way is simply to free associate from the poem’s theme or approach. After rereading “Digging,” a few times, I think I’ll write about my mother’s work and the extent to which it has differed from mine.

If you’re looking for more inspiration, remember Chris Jarmick’s blog, Poetry Is Everything, and notice that he recommends the video prompts by Washington State Poet Laureate, Elizabeth Austen.



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