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Robert Burns, “To a Mouse”
Like “Digging,” Burns’s poem emphasizes the rural life of farming and physical labor. The two poems also share a concern about breaking with long traditions of working the land. Whereas Burns’s poem deals with the historical enclosure of the commons in the Scottish countryside, it shares with Heaney’s poem a sense of worry about the uncertain future of rural life.
Thomas Hardy, Far from the Madding Crowd
Far from the Madding Crowd (1874) is set in a rural area of southwestern England known as Wessex. Though the story Hardy tells offers a somewhat more idyllic view of the countryside than that explored in “Digging,” it provides a useful point of comparison with Heaney’s treatment of rural life.
Robert Frost’s Early Poems
Frost ranked among the poets Heaney admired from early in his career. Alongside figures like Ted Hughes and Patrick Kavanaugh, Frost helped inspire Heaney to draw inspiration from his rural roots and to write from and about the places he knew best.