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“Digging” has a tone that initially seems wistful, but which is ultimately self-assured. The word wistful refers to a feeling of regretful longing, which nicely describes the slight undercurrent of melancholy that’s evident in the speaker’s recollections of his father and grandfather. The speaker clearly respects both men, and it it’s equally clear that he feels unable—and perhaps unwilling—to follow in their footsteps. The speaker therefore feels wistful about his relation to his forefathers. Yet “Digging” is ultimately a poem in which the speaker stakes a claim to poetry, and he does so by activating the pleasures of language. Although the speaker laments the fact that he has “no spade to follow men like [his father and grandfather]” (line 28), he does have the ability to wield the pen. The pen, in turn, grants him the capacity to evoke what was uniquely gratifying about the physical labor carried out by his forebears, like the sound made by “the squelch and slap / Of soggy peat” (lines 25-26). In this sense, the immense aural pleasures of the poem convey a tone that emphasizes the speaker’s evident gifts as a poet.