Dah Duit (Hi) and welcome

Seamus Heaney 1939–2013. He seen the day.

Digging


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.