Study Guide

Digging Stanza 8

By Seamus Heaney

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Stanza 8

Lines 29-31

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I'll dig with it.

  • Wow, what an ending. First, like a boomerang, the speaker circles all the way back to where he started and repeats the first two lines of the poem.
  • In doing so, he manages to show he is following in the tradition of his father and grandfather. He's just using a different tool and a different method. While his dad and grandpa dug with spades, our speaker plans to dig with his pen.
  • When Heaney writes "I'll dig with it," we see that yes, our speaker is different from his father and grandfather in what and how he digs, but he is also similar in that he is trying to "get to the bottom" or "unearth" certain things too. And just as his father and grandfather dig down into the earth, perhaps our speaker wants to dig down into his past, his roots, to give proper recognition to awesome men like his elders.
  • The last lines of the poem show how the speaker carries on the tradition of work and "digging" in his own work, different as it may be.

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