Seamus Heaney uses both middle and poetic diction in the poem “Digging” to make its meaning accessible and straightforward to readers.
Middle diction is the use of words that are chosen to be more formal than colloquial language but less elevated and more relatable than formal diction. Middle diction adheres to grammatical rules and manners while utilizing everyday language (but not slang).
Heaney uses understandable and common (but not child-like or primitive) vocabulary, such as “clean rasping sound,” “flowerbeds,” “coarse boot nestled,” “Nicking and slicing,” and more. Showing admiration for his grandfather, he exalts,
By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.
His praise is not stiffly formal or casual, but straightforward.
Poetic diction is the use of literary devices as tools to create effects. One example of poetic diction is the simile “snug as a gun.” This simile creates an unexpected connection between two very different objects: a pen and a...
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