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Analysis


Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay

Form and Meter

Free verse is a poetic style that lacks a regular meter or rhyme scheme. We know what you're thinking, though: "Shmoop, how can you say there's no rhyme scheme here?" And you're right, there is ton...

Speaker

The speaker in this poem is a writer, quite possibly a poet. He's the son of a potato farmer, and as we quickly find out, he's the grandson of a harvester as well. He comes from a long line of digg...

Setting

The poem opens with our speaker at his desk. Pretty basic, right? But then, through his reminiscences, we move back in time to the potato field and peat bog where his father and grandfather worked....

Sound Check

Seamus Heaney comes from a long tradition of Irish poets rooted in the music of both English and Gaelic languages. As we see in this poem, it's tough to escape your roots! Though Heaney breaks the...

What's Up With the Title?

It might not seem like it at first glance, but Heaney is actually being quite creative with the title of this poem. On the one hand, we discover pretty quickly that the poem will literally be about...

Calling Card

There is no other poet alive today more skilled at using the sound and music of the English language. Okay, okay, so that's just our opinion, but we can back it up with all kinds of evidence (see "...

Tough-o-Meter

While there is a ton going on in this poem on both the musical and symbolic level, you are going to feel pretty secure on your first read. There are no tough words (except maybe spade?), and the se...

Trivia

Seamus Heaney sure is the authority on family: he was the first of nine children! (Source.)The author and his wife, Marie Heaney, have a lot in common. His leading lady also came from a large famil...

Steaminess Rating

G. No sex within a hundred miles of this potato field.

Allusions

While Heaney isn't talking directly about the Irish Potato Famine, it's important to know about it to understand why potato farming was so important to Irish culture, and to our speaker's family in...
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