The field of postcolonial theory is of increasing primacy within critical theory and literary theory. Postcolonial studies emphasise the re-emergence of cultural strengths and identities, personal, racial, national and the like. However, the term itself, and the existence of a field of critical theory and studies related to it, is still contested and debated. Situating a discussion or literary analysis within such a field could, therefore, be inherently problematic, although this author will attempt to justify why Heaney can be viewed as a post-colonial poet by dint of his work, not just the happenstance of his temporal and national placement.
The particular themes and dimensions of these poems are significant in relation to postcolonial theory because they so strongly related to aspects of his cultural and racial identity and heritage, as well as to his personal history and experience. Reference will be made within the essay to different critical views upon his work, and to the underlying and associated political dimensions of the context within which the works were produced. Green and Lebihan 37 suggest that post colonial writing may be engaged in rewriting a particular version of history, or in challenging a forceful commonplace view of politics.
The consequences of violence — death, decay and associated conditions, are also prevalent within these works. This corpse is viewed by Heaney as a reflection of the Catholic women who, during the troubles in Northern Ireland, were publicly punished tarred and chained to their houses for dating and associating with British soliders.
The land and the violence associated with the people of the land seem to be inextricably linked. In terms of style, this extract shows while Heaney embraces simple, poetic beauty of language, it is this very beauty which starkly contrasts with his subject. The way in which Heany sets out to depict adultery and the tribal consequences of this shows a connection to both present and past.
Yet this is no romanticised past, no idealised heritage to generate a strong sense of nationalism. By including these memories and reminiscing on the traditions of his family, Heaney indicates why it is so hard for him to depart from his family history and choose a different path in life as a poet. In order to begin to justify his identity, he draws upon the personal memories discussed above.
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He acknowledges that he is not going to be a digger of potatoes or turf like his father or grandfather before him and seems even a little disappointed about it. He honors and admires their work, but has chosen to take a different path. In order to justify his identity, Heaney tries to understand this purpose and function.
Through his poetry, he can delve into the past and, as the title of his essay suggests, put his feelings into words.
Heaney comes to understand that it is possible for him to both honor his history and depart from it. As mentioned earlier, Heaney seemed to have a hard time breaking away from the traditions of his forefathers and justifying his chosen vocation of writing.
Digging (Seamus Heaney poem) Essay Questions | GradeSaver
For instance, it indicates the power that writing can have. Another less apparent concept that this simile could be referring to requires a small amount of knowledge of the history of Ireland and characteristics of Northern Ireland society. During the 20th century, Ireland, and Northern Ireland in particular, went through a period of religious and political turmoil between the Catholics and the Protestants and the Nationalists and the Unionists Jackson.
This conflict is hinted at in this simile. The introduction of this simile at the beginning of the poem and its removal at the end indicates that Heaney has chosen to depart from the history of his country as well and use his pen and writing as a tool, not a weapon. In addition to metaphor and simile, Heaney uses an exorbitant amount of words that appeal to the senses. He travels back to his past with the imagination and finds his grandfather digging for peat.
Ultimately, the speaker comes back to the present being ready for the writing.
Poem analysis of Digging (1966) by Seamus Heaney - Essay Example
As he digs into the memory, he finds the tradition of digging in both father and grandfather. Then, this bog is the symbol of personal memory where he digs to identify the personal history. He proudly declares that his father was the digger who followed the tradition of digging from his father when father dug for the potato drills, grandfather dug for the turf.
Whatever the reason is, they were digging for their survival. His father and grandfather are the simple digger. They have not done anything great, but he finds greatness in the trifling family history. It is his root, which may be ugly, but it is always lovely. The change might have come in the nature of digging, but the tradition of digging has continued.