Heaney’s “Digging” and Giovani’s “For Saundra” Poems

Both poems by Seamus Heaney and Nikki Giovanni explore the issues related to writing, which often prevent many from creating and realizing their ideas in practice. Although they arrive at different conclusions, their messages have several common features. While Giovanni speaks about the difference and controversy between what is imagined or planned and the actual world, Heaney describes the similarity between tough and exhausting physical work and the process of writing. The two authors approach poetry differently and display two distinct methods: inspiration and dedication. I found the concluding idea of not writing in “For Saundra” more appealing, and less stressful despite Heaney’s commitment to continue because Giovanni provides readers with fresh advice and a look at poetry.

Seamus Heaney’s “Digging” depicts an approach promoted by many educators and the education system in general. In the poem, Heaney compares himself to his father gardening and performing a routine, which requires a great amount of concentration and time. Heaney uses simile when he describes a pen in his hand as a “gun”, resembling digging utensils used by his father. Indeed, the functions of both instruments, even though having different purposes, are to explore all the available resources, improve the overall appearance of gardens, or papers, and help the user achieve results through the time-consuming trial and error technique.

Heaney uses irony to explore the common perception of writing being a creative and easy process, when he points that all the authors do is “nicking and slicing … [and] digging.” Heaney implies that dedication can lead to desired results as his father continues digging and gardening. By describing various house yard routines through metaphor, he decides to keep “dig[ging]” with his pen. Heaney wants to find the “good turf”, which symbolizes success, after hard work, described through imagery as a process involving “rasping sound[s].” Observing his father’s commitment to the gardening job, Heaney realizes that writing is a process requiring patience and concentration.

On the other hand, Nikki Giovanni presents a solution to the arising fear associated with writing. Giovanni speaks about his initial desire to create a poem that rhymes, which he abandons after several unsuccessful attempts. Then, following his neighbor’s advice, he uses irony and imagery to indicate a controversy between expected greenery and “asphalt [,] no green – no trees” and clouds. Giovanni also uses metaphor and symbolism by mentioning a “gun” and “kerosene”, which not only represent a pen and ink but also imply his tiredness and inner frustration. Although Giovanni rejects his idea of creating rhymes about trees and the sky, he writes about his disappointment and catches readers’ attention by doing so.

Giovanni’s “For Saundra” can be interpreted as a work that emphasizes inspiration and free will. One can write about things they enjoy and like during the time they find convenient, and in the environment, they find comfortable and productive. I believe that not a single writing process can be enjoyed as much as the one full of interest and motivation, and no work can be loved by a reader as much as the one written with inspiration. If it is “not [a] poetic time[]”, people should not pressure and force themselves to write. He concludes by recommending readers to take a rest to refresh their energy. Such an approach can result in a much more pleasant experience than the one presented by Heaney.

Seamus Heaney and Nikki Giovanni speak about the challenging process of creating poetry. They present two working styles that most people have experienced, which are both helpful but different in nature. One promotes dedication, while the other emphasizes the importance of one’s feelings and inspiration. I found Giovanni’s method of freedom more persuasive than Heaney’s because I believe it can result in more creative and enjoyable outcomes.

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