Thursday, December 15, 2016

'Digging' the poem chosen for GMIT

In 2014 the Library invited students and staff to choose a poem for GMIT. The poem with the most votes and chosen as ‘the poem for GMIT’ was ‘Digging’ by Seamus Heaney. 

In this, the fiftieth anniversary of its publication, we are delighted to have a print of the poem on display in the library on the Dublin Road. 

The print was created by Lynne O’Loughlin, with an image by Deirdre O’Mahony. 

‘Digging’ appeared in Seamus Heaney’s first major collection, Death of a Naturalist, published by Faber and Faber in 1966. 

Between my finger and my thumb   
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound   
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:   
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds   
Bends low, comes up twenty years away   
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills   
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft   
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.   
Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner’s bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.

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

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