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The title of this excellent poem by the Nobel Prize winning poet is actually an extended metaphor, as throughout the poem a comparison is made between the father's work and the way that the poet is carrying on in his father's footsteps. This comparison is most clearly established in the last three lines of the poem:
Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I'll dig with it.
What is important to Heaney and to so many of the poems is his family past, and in this poem he shows how he can dig into or explore his memory of the collective memory of his family and culture. He can likewise dig into the minds and hearts of people, creating poems that illuminate human experience. Cutting turf may not be thought to be the most beneficial of topics for poetry, yet Heaney shows how even this can be fertile ground for poets such as himself, as he expresses the way that he feels united with his predecessors through blood, memory and the soil.
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