Phonetics and phonology - The sounds of poetry

Sound patterns in poetry

Here are two extracts from the poem Digging by Seamus Heaney. In the poem, a son talks openly about his perceived failures in following in his father's footsteps, namely because of his lack of skill with a spade and as a farmer.

Read them out loud:

Under my window, a clean rasping sound   
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:   
My father, digging. I look down 

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge

Now discuss the following questions:

Aswell as your own ideas, you might like to explore the following points:

Next, try doing a similar anlaysis of the sounds in a different poem, Privacy of Rain by Helen Dunmore, which you can find here.

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