The speaker of “Digging” is a poet who stakes out a vision for his future life and career. Although the speaker doesn’t reveal many specific details about his identity, it seems reasonable to assume that he is male. One reason this identification seems reasonable is the close association between Heaney’s own biography and that of the poem’s speaker. However, even if we hesitate to conflate the poet and the speaker, it’s also evident that the speaker is concerned with his place in a lineage of men. Both the speaker’s father and grandfather were men who worked the land. In the poem, the speaker depicts his father sowing potatoes and his grandfather cutting peat, which would be dried and used for domestic fuel. The poet wants to honor these men and the dignity of their physical labors. However, the speaker also longs to follow a different path in life: the path of literature. Instead of digging into the earth with the spade, the poet will metaphorically “dig” with the pen. This is precisely what he does in this poem, where he uses his literary capacities to dig through memories of his forebears, excavating moments of particular meaning and pleasure.