When Seamus Heaney opened his debut poetry collection with “Digging,” he staked out a powerful claim for his future as a poet. Like Heaney himself, the poem’s speaker is a man whose family has roots in the rural landscapes of the Irish countryside. As he sits at his writing desk, the speaker looks out his office window to see his father tending flowers in the garden below. The sight and sound of the gardener’s spade digging into the earth draws the speaker’s mind back in time. He recalls one memory from his childhood when he watched his father sowing potatoes in the field, and another when he observed his grandfather cutting peat at a bog. The speaker clearly respects both men, and he seems a bit melancholy about the fact that he has “no spade to follow men like them” (line 27). However, the speaker also trusts his capacity as a poet, which enables him to “dig” through the past with his pen and excavate memories of particular significance. In this way, the speaker comes into his own as a poet who can honor and evoke, through language, the uniquely gratifying pleasures of his forebears’ physical labors.