A Comparison of Digging by Seamus Heaney and The Thought Fox by Ted Hughes

To illustrate these findings, Seamus Heaney’s poem ‘Digging’ will first be discussed, then compared with Hughes’ ‘The Thought Fox’. Despite the differences, there is little doubt that both poems, from title to completion, are a metaphorical representation of the poets in the process of creation.

‘Digging’ Seamus Heaney (1966). This poem opens with a surprisingly stark and aggressive image, where the juxtaposition of the pen and the gun tends to shock. It would seem, that for the poet, both fit well. “Between my finger and my thumb” (l. 1). By setting those first two lines apart, then repeating them at the end, Heaney has at once established his distance and difference from that ‘digging’ he goes on to depict. The speaker is the omniscient narrator, his voice at times conversational and intimate, always pensive and ultimately triumphant. He leads the reader at once to the auditory and visual sensations experienced, as he seems to look out of the window at his father, the digger. The rhythm of those movements is expressed with enjambment and caesura thus:

It is that pause and the words after “low” that remove us from the present and suggest both past and future for his father and himself. With free, irregular verse, we are moved back and forward in time and space, the word ‘rhythm’ suggesting a pattern established for generations. Heaney creates, with visual and auditory imagery, the powerful strength and skill his father uses in pursuit of his farming role. He links back to his childhood joy of “new” potatoes” “loving their cool hardness in our hands” (l. 14), bringing the vivid, tactile experience to life. His elegiac verse form expresses his feelings for his father, not yet dead, and he moves further back in time and space to include his grandfather. The poet places himself in&nbsp.juxtaposition to his ancestry, while acknowledging his love and respect for the power of their creativity and labor, which has allowed him to pursue a different path.&nbsp.&nbsp.