(For text, click on this link: Digging by Seamus Heaney : The Poetry Foundation.) Seamus Heaney (1939-2013) was an international treasure, a native of Ireland, and a longtime professor at Harvard. His poem, “Digging,” contrasts his own work of writing, with his father’s manual labor. I thought it would be a nice follow-up to Grace Paley’s, “The Poet’s Occasional Alternative.”
My habit–these past four days–has been to 1) post the poem here; then 2) write it out in my notebook; and then, 3) try writing my own poem, using the original as a kind of model. One way to do this is strictly, so if the poet begins with an adjective, you begin with an adjective, then a noun, and so forth. But another way is simply to free associate from the poem’s theme or approach. After rereading “Digging,” a few times, I think I’ll write about my mother’s work and the extent to which it has differed from mine.