Seamus Heaney - At a Potato Digging - Poetry Analysis

At a Potato Digging

At a Potato Digging   Heaney’s dedication to his Irish roots is endemic to his poetry. His feeling for the great misfortunes visited upon his race finds expression via the Irish famine disasters around 1845. This stern sequence of four poems reflects on Ireland’s almost total reliance on the potato as a staple-food in good times and bad.   I In countless cultures Mother Earth (here a divinity worshipped on the altar of the sod) presides as a pagan symbol over planting and harvesting. The legendary importance to the Irish of the potato harvest explains the reverence Heaney lends it. The first stage in this ‘present-day’ harvesting process is mechanised and brutal: A mechanical digger wrecks the drill. What follows is labour-intensive, manual and age-old: Labourers …/ Wicker creels …/ Fingers .. dead in the cold. The potato-pickers in large numbers swarm in behind; the poet reduces them to crows […read more….]