What is the main theme of the poem "Digging?"
A theme is suggestd by a combination of the tone and the way the metaphor of digging shows unexpected common ground between the livelihood of potato farming and writing. What is such a theme?
The main themes of the poem "Digging" are the nobility of all work, and continuity with the past. The central metaphor in the poem is the comparison between the speaker's chosen work of writing and his ancestor's livelihood as potato farmers. The tone of the poem is one of reverence, reverence on the part of the speaker for the kind of work done by his father, and his father before him. The speaker says,
"By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man."
The speaker describes the labor involved in raising potatoes, and lauds his father's and grandfather's skill in doing it. He recalls a time when he, as a young boy, was sent to bring his grandfather a bottle of milk while he worked, and remembers how the older man took only a minute to drink it before returning to the monumental task at hand. The speaker laments briefly that he has "no spade to follow men like them," but understands that he can share in their legacy of hard work by doing well the task alotted him - writing. In lieu of a spade, he will take his pen, and "dig with it."