Saying Digging by Seamus Heaney

Saying Digging by Seamus Heaney…

This is a poem that I started learning at the end of August. I have been trying to learn a poem a week. It is now mid September.

I don’t really know why but this poem turned out to be so difficult to learn. It is a little longer than the other ones I have learnt so far but I think there is something about the message in the poem. Something about it that I can hear but not really feel.

The poem is one of Heaney’s earlier poems and he is looking at his father and his grandfather and how they were brilliant at digging. The rhymes are beautiful and subtle and it just sounds so natural. It is a beautiful poem. Maybe the core message did not vibrate with me.

Why so difficult?

Some of the reasons that made it so difficult to learn this poem was that there was a lot of stuff going on: it was the end of the holidays and then it was back to school for my young family. I tried a couple of times to record it but nearly everytime I tried to record it I got something wrong. Either when I was saying it or else something happened during the recording.

I have seen great advantages from learning poetry though. I have seen it  in re-learning some of my music and lyrics for the groups I play with.

Why learn?

There was a concert with Onze Onze and it was so easy to relearn all the lyrics after the holidays. In an earlier post I wondered about the utility of learning these poems so I suppose I am getting an answer already.

I can also feel it in my writing. I have continued drawing as well and there are things changing with that too. I will announce the news in relation to drawings on a separate post.

Last night, I was at the birthday party of a friend and he co-celebrated his birthday with his father. We improvised some music with some musician friends. I improvised some lyrics.

What can we say about time passing? About those who have come before? How can we live up to the ones who were before us?

Heaney answers you have to use the tools that you have.

Hope you enjoy this poem and see you soon…

Digging by Seamus Heaney.

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.
Seamus Heaney, “Digging” from Death of a Naturalist. Copyright 1966 by Seamus Heaney.

Here, come here Profane no 4

Here, come here Profane no 4 …

lookingforsleep:cherchantlesommeil

If you are in Paris and would like to be at the launch of the magazine Profane and its fourth issue, please come along to Le Cœur Gallery for the the opening and launch. I was very pleased to be invited to take part and I did some drawings for this issue of Profane…

If you’d like to come to the gallery Le Cœur, here are the details: 83 rue de Turenne 75003 Paris at 6 pm on Friday 19th of May…

profaneno4flyer

See you there!

PS: As always the new EP by Onze Onze

You can listen here and buy here

News- but not really

Hello all,

I have been a bad blogger- I spend most of my time on Instagram where I am throwing up a drawing or a film nearly every other day.

Macdara on Instagram

I should try and do that here more often. I did take a new year’s resolution where I said that I would write a blog post here every week. Maybe I will get back to it sometime.

Honestly though, working, making art and raising a family, just makes these things slide.

Here instead is some news before this special weekend.

I’m in a great mood to be doing two dates with Zarboth

We are playing Bourges on Friday 21st April at the Printemps de Bourges (OFF) à L’Hexagone, 11 rue des trois bourses, 18000 Bourges, France
https://www.facebook.com/events/399810627062685/

And Saturday 22nd April in Les Hirondelles 2 Place sous l’Orme, 89450 Asquins, France.

On Sunday I’ll be playing with the equally fabulous Onze Onze

We are playing at the MOFO festival in Mains d’Œuvres but come early!

Here is the video (by Auriane Legendre) from our upcoming EP Things Falling…