I picked this poem because I could picture the main character and his daily struggle clearly as I read the poem. Edwin Morgan used a lot of descriptions within the poem describing the surrounding area of the cafe and described the main character. The main theme that runs thought the whole poem is one of the daily struggle that an elderly gentleman’s has to go through although people might be aware of his presence they are ignorant to the fact of the help and support that he might need. This is portrayed in the poem by the following lines:-
“An old man is trying to get to his feet” “Slowly he leavers himself up, his hands have no power. ” “He is as far up as he can get. The dismal hump looming over him forces his head down” “The face not seem, bent down in a shadow under his cap” “Even on his feet he is staring at the floor or would be if he could see” Edwin Morgan’s descriptions uses a lot of literary techniques to help us picture the character one of the techniques he uses is juxtaposition this is used to show that nobody is really interested in this gentleman. “A few heads turn in the crowded evening snack bar. ”
Juxtaposition again is used describing the gentleman getting to his feet with no self-esteem or status. “Slowly he leavers himself up, his hands have no power” The word leavers also could represent the hard mechanical movement that the hands go through slow and stiff. The next literary technique showed enjambment something that has more than one meaning this is shown in “The dismal hump looming over him forces his head down” This line could mean that the character has a humped back but it can also mean that the character has a dark cloud hanging over him no self-esteem, no status.
That he is unseen in today’s society. “He stands in his stained beltless gabardine like a monstrous animal caught in a tent. ” This sentence gives the allusion of a creature like King Kong it also has alliteration running through the theme that he slitters along unnoticed. The first turning point with in the poem that makes the character real instead of a creature when he states that the character is actually blind and although his appearance isn’t appealing to people around him he probably would not notice as he cannot see it.
“Or it would be, if he could see”. Edwin Morgan then goes on to explain that he notices how the man’s white stick that once might have been new and clean was now all “scuffed and muddy” which told myself that the man probably lived alone, that there was no one there to help him co-ordinate and see that his clothes were clean and presentable. Edwin Morgan then lists the characters afflictions in the poem making you see him how everyone around may see almost making you feel pity for the gentleman.
“Long-blind, hunchback born, half paralysed. ” Edwin Morgan then makes the character real when he states that he “Speaks” This makes large probably dirty deformed object actually human. “I need the toilet” the character is also showing his vulnerability that he has to state out loud a personal function, making him fragile and dependant on someone else’s help. The text then changes into two people having a conversation stopping him from being the solitary object that people are ignoring to a person asking for help a human being.
The gentle man hakes the man’s arm trying to take charge of the situation but the gentleman tells him “Give me your arm its better he says” Again the communication between the two gentlemen makes him real and also fragile once again that he is dependent on someone else’s help. Onamatapia is used in the next line to show the speed used to travel across the cafe “Inch by inch” With a passive reference on how they go “We drift” Edwin Morgan then describes what is possibly a short distance actually feels like a vast area by using the slimily.
“A few yards of floor are like a landscape” The word landscape could also refer to obsicals that they have to avoid to cross the floor. That it feels to him like “Time has almost stopped” that it is taking an eternity to reach their destination. Edwin Morgan then sees the world through the gentleman’s perspective : “Slidie puddle from the night’s umbrella’s” “Table edges, people’s feet” “Hiss of the coffee – machine, voices and laughter,” “Smell of cigar, hamburgers, wet coats steaming.”
And the shuffle of the slow pace to the stairs shoes alliterations the shuffling sound in the words “And the slow dangerous inches to the stairs” The tone of the poem changes to quite an active one here but it also shows how dependant the gentleman still is still vulnerable and needs help “I put his hand on the rail. ” “And take his stick” “He clings to me. “The stick “this is enjambment the stick could represent the gentleman helping him. “White tiles and mirrors at last, he shambles” the writer is using synecdoche here to symbolise that they have reached their destination.
Courtney from Study Moose
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