Seamus Heaney's "Digging" describes a man's journey through time to observe, stand in awe of, and struggle to measure up to, the greatness of two men in the speaker's past.
First the narrator talks of his father. He is writing from his memory, offering the sensory details—the sights, the smells and the sounds—alive in his memory. The narrator holds his pen—it rests snugly, like a gun. This is an interesting simile, but perhaps it alludes to the quotation, "the pen is mightier than the sword," giving the sense that it may be a small object, but the pen has its own power.
The speaker hears the sound of his father outside:
Under my window a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down...
Here the speaker is looking (in the present) at his father digging (in the present). He describes the sound of the spade working its way into the ground, "rasping" against pebbles in the dirt.
The narrator now notes that he is engaging a memory of his father...
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