Like in the first stanza, his use of run-on lines and caesura pauses seems to slow the verse down, as though the child is rooted to the spot, taking it all in. The hyperbole of the line the ‘great slime kings’ could sound humorous, but placed immediately after ‘I sickened, turned, and ran’ we feel the child’s terror. This is confirmed in the final lines when he states with certainty: ‘I knew/That if I dipped my hand the spawn would clutch it.’ Once more the line is sharp with monosyllabic words.
The poem starts and ends with the same lines "between my finger and my thumb/The squat pen rests" but the first stanza ends with "as snug as a gun" and the last stanza ends with "I'll dig with it." Thus, Heaney foregrounds the importance of the writer's profession and craft by breathing new life into the cliched idiom "the pen is mightier than the sword." Heaney affirms that he has decided to choose his own career path, as a writer. It is clear that Heaney feels confident that he is very skilled with a pen and demonstrates and proves that he is an accomplished poet by writing this very thought provoking poem.