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Digging and Gift


This paper analyzes two poems, The Gift, by Li- Young Lee, and Digging, by Seamus Heaney. In the gift, the poet describes two incidences of removal of a splinter. In the first incidence, the Young Lee talks about an incidence that involves the removal of a splinter by his father. In the second incidence, he removes a splinter from his wife’s palm. These two poems describe how children learn from their parents through observation, and how they take these legacies to the future generations. Therefore, through poetry it is possible to portray how children learn from their parents, and in turn, communicate to parents on how they can influence their children’s behavior by giving good examples to them.

The first lesson that children learn from their parents is how to be responsible. This is portrayed in “Digging” when the child watches as the father was attending to his flowerbeds. The poet compares the spade that his father and grandfather used with his pen. It is evident that hard work displayed by parents inspires their children to work harder. The poet concludes by saying that he or she will work with the squat pen that rests in his palm. This is an inspirational line that shows how a child is determined to work hard in the same way as the parent used to work. The poet further says that “My grandfather could cut more turf in a day than any other man on Toner’s bog” (Poetry Anthology). In the line, it is evident that the child is proud of his grandfather because of the industriousness that the grandfather portrays.

In The Gift, Lee describes two events that involve removal of a splint from an individual’s palm, and the two events show how children learn from their parents. In the first event, Lee describes how his father removed a splinter from his palm when he was a child. At his tender age, he could appreciate the fact that his father removed a splinter from his palm, and this made him to have some relief. Lee observes that like any other child, he kissed his father after the father removed a splinter from his palm. This is because he felt relieved because the splinter was bothering him in his palm.

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The title of the poem is the gift, and in the context of the poem, the father gave his son a gift of relief. In turn, the son gave his wife a gift of relief by removing a splinter from the palm of the wife. The poet says that the father removed the splinter so gently that he did not have the feeling that the metal would kill him. The tenderness in the father’s action is repeated by the son when he removed the splinter from the palm of the wife “so carefully that she feels no pain” ( Therefore, the poem depicts how the action of a parent can be copied by a child, who is contented with the action.


Poetry is used to portray how the actions of a parent influence the behavior of children in their life. From the two poems, it is clear that the children were inspired by the acts of their parents. In digging, the poet explains how the father’s acts of digging inspired him, and enable him to dig with his pen. Besides, in the gift, the poet describes the act of his father as a gift of relief, and in turn does the same to his wife. Therefore, poets can use their work to influence parents to be role models for their children by setting good examples.