What does "hard work" mean? Does it mean coming home with aching bones and blistered hands? Does it mean feeling so mentally drained that your brain refuses to fully function? "Hard work" is a broad term, and everybody has his or her own definition. In "Digging" by Seamus Heaney, Heaney compares his work as a writer to the work of his father and grandfather, both farmers who work the land. To Heaney, hard work is the kind of work his father and grandfather demonstrate in the fields; work that is physical and involves hard manual labor like "digging" up potatoes and turf. In relationship to Heaney and his family, my form of work as a student also greatly differs from that of my parents. However, all types of work are similar in certain aspects, and all of us who work strive for the same feeling of satisfaction and purpose. .
Through out the poem, we notice that Heaney feels his work, as a writer is less important than that of his father and grandfather. This is seen through Heaney's admiring tone when talking about his father and grandfather. When Heaney writes "By God, the old man could handle a spade." and "My grandfather cut more turf in a day Than any other man on Toner's bog." it is obvious that Heaney has nothing but utmost respect and admiration toward the hard work of his family. That being said, Heaney seems to struggle with his identity in relationship to his family. His father and grandfather both value farming and manual labor, while Heaney took a different path in his career by becoming a writer. Farming has played a huge role in Heaney's life, and he is aware yet slightly uncomfortable at the fact that he is breaking such tradition. He admits that he is not like them, but by the end of the poem he realizes that his work in writing and his family's work in farming are similar in certain ways. Both involve skill and a tool, so while his father and grandfather will "dig" with a spade or shovel, Heaney will "dig" with his pen.