* Site-Outage Notice: Our engineering elves will be tweaking the Shmoop site from Monday, December 22 10:00 PM PST to Tuesday, December 23 5:00 AM PST. The site will be unavailable during this time.
© 2014 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.


by Seamus Heaney

Family Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #4

By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man. (15-16)

You know what's interesting about these lines? They tell us that it's not farming per se that runs in the family, but spade-handling. So it's not the job that these men pass down – it's the skill.

Quote #5

My grandfather cut more turf in a day (17)

Here we see the speaker remember the skill of his grandfather, just as he remembered the skill of his father. The speaker seems very connected to his paternal roots. We wonder if they feel the same way about their descendants.

Quote #6

[…] the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head. (26-27)

The mere sound of a shovel going into the ground reminds the speaker where he comes from and who his family is. Now that's some good hearing.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...

Noodle's College Search