Collaborative Work: Imagery and Figurative Language
Heaney's "Digging" and Simic's "Watch Repair"
Heaney's "Digging" and Simic's "Watch Repair" are both rich in imagery and figurative language. Using the "Imagery and Figurative Language" handout as needed, you will explore the imagery of one of these poems. Each group should choose a recorder who will read aloud the assigned section and record the group's responses to the questions outlined below. After you answer the first four questions, we'll return to discuss the poems as a group. After that, you'll return to your group, and your final goal will be to develop a contestable claim (or claims) -- in other words, a thesis statement (or statements) -- about the poem's theme or themes.
Heaney's "Digging":
1. What images does the speaker use for "digging"?
2. What is the narrative of the poem, and how is it presented? What is the speaker's relationship to the narrative, in terms of time and tone?
3. What is the speaker's attitude towards his father's job? Which digging tool is stronger? (The father digs with a "spade," the narrator with a "squat pen.")
4. Why is the poem called "Digging?" What might be the poem's theme or themes?
Simic's "Watch Repair":
1. What are the images in each stanza?
2. What might these images be tropes for? (A trope is a word or phrase used "in a way that effects a conspicuous change in what we take to be [its] standard meaning," according to Abrams.)
3. Which images seem connected to one another -- or, which stanzas would you link together? Based on these links, develop a possible narrative for this poem.
4. Why is the poem called "Watch Repair?" What might be the poem's theme or themes? How does the poem's form contribute to its theme or themes?
Thesis questions:
Turn to your Thesis vs. Topic handout, and use it to develop a thesis about the poem your group has discussed. Remember that merely listing techniques that develop a theme is a common trap (so, don't fall into it). Instead, you might ask about the significance of using these particular techniques (as opposed to other ones).

Return to Phil Nel's syllabus for English 112W, section 5.