In the first line, we see the first literary device in the poem, a simile, of which the simile is followed by an oxymoron “Straws like tame lightnings”. Alternatively, the use of the strange description can be used in correlation with the strange world he is depicting in the depths of his mind, as one often has strange thoughts and weird interpretations of the world that are often unexpressed in society. However, when he is in his own mind, what is there from keeping his expressions unexpressed? “Green as glass”. Yet another surreal simile that we see, yet we find this to be amazingly true.
This demonstrates the wonderfully intelligent mind of the poet in the sense that he not only sees, but observes the things that are in his view, something that many people cannot do. Of course, no one ever mentions this, because it would be considered weird. However in the recesses of his head who is there to contradict him when the weird things that one might say in society is in fact true? Normally, we don’t usually think about these things, nor do we usually ever think about looking into one as it usually is found in the horse stables, a relatively dirty place that no one really wants to be in.
“Nine ducks go wobbling by in two straight lines” This displays conformity and strict behaviour that the poet may often possess in times of stress or when the poet is preparing to do something drastic The poet has the capability of expressing these in his head, but does not and therefore the form of thought takes the form of ducks, which are considered cute and not a threat to us at all to change our mental stability quickly, just the way the poet wants these to be. The fact that it wobbles evokes a positive attitude in the reader as wobbling usually is cute and creates an image of the ducks being adorable.
Furthermore the movement has a pattern, making it very similar to skipping, which is often done by young innocent children when they are happy. “A hen stares at nothing with one eye, then picks it up. Out of an empty sky” The portrayal of the hen can be used to convey the insane part of the poet or the undesirable thoughts that the poet has in the back of his head, the opposite of his conscience in a sense. The fact that it only has one eye gives the chicken a look of it being sinister. The fact that it stares at nothing gives an even more frightening picture, as it makes us wonder what we may find in the recesses of its mind.
Note the caesura at the end of the verb “then picks it up. ” The pause is used as a dramatic pause to allow what the chicken has done to sink in for the reader. Once again the fact that there is a dramatic pause indicate how insane the chicken might be that we take note of every action that we do. Often in mental patients, they are usually still as they are in the recesses of their minds and that they often “stare at nothing” it is only when they move that we should be afraid, similar to how the chicken moves there is a dramatic pause, verifying the fact that we should in fact be afraid.
The author then goes on to say “Out of an empty sky” once again this can indicate a sense of surrealism as it is impossible to take things out of something that is already empty, let alone something that is so far away already like the sky. . On the other hand the chicken, being the insane being that it was, saw something out of the nothingness and picked up something that it thought it was there in the empty sky. It was having hallucinations. However there is a happy ending to this. The fact that the chicken was there in the first place shows acknowledgement.
He acknowledges that there is this crazy part in the depth of his mind that wishes him to do what is not right and fights it, so as to be able to identify and suppress the thoughts that come to him, as the saying always goes, you should always “know your enemy”. The fact that the chicken only has one eye can also mean that the author has a part of him that is irrational, that only looks with one eye and fails to see with the other. He therefore only has a one-sided view of things. Still, he gropes around in the nothingness, trying to find inspiration.
He therefore finds something, but fails to analyse it deeply and thus has no meaning. It is finally here that the author is mentioned. “I lie, not thinking, in the cool, soft grass, afraid of where a thought might take me – as”. It is here that we see how calm he is in his posture (lying down). He is also pointing out detail again, although now from his physical point of view, indicating how relaxed he is that once again he can afford to focus on the details. Note how scared he is that this world of his might break and he would have to once again go back into reality.
He perhaps is afraid of remembering his problems in reality, or the things that are causing him stress. “afraid of where a thought might take me” 8. The grasshopper is mentioned. “This grasshopper with the plated face unfolds his legs and finds himself in space” Note once again the detail in the plated face. 9. We see a repetition in the word “self” here. “Self under self, a pile of selves I stand”. The poet here expresses the fact that we are all made here from different identities.
We have the identity that we put on at home, with our friends and with our extended family members. We also have the ones that we had in our past, before we changed into something better. All in all when we combine them together, we get the final identity that you have, the one that you put on when you are alone. That is the “piles of selves I stand” that he mentions, that the final identity that he has is put together from all the identities that he has in the past, or the ones that he puts on that is not actually his.
This not only relates the poet, but to the people of humanity as well, we all have these identities, and we stand on top of the piles of selves that we once had before putting the real one on. 10. “Threaded on time, and with a metaphysic hand” This line makes the poem reach the height of its surrealism as we start to see time blend in as well. a. Alternatively he could be talking about the childhood that he had as his mother’s side of the family lived on the farm, and how generations of generations of people before him have always lived on the farm and that he is no different than the many people before him.
He is implying that he is the descendent of a line of farm-owners, and that he is part of a chain of being and tightly connected but also separated from past and future as he lives in the present. Think about the Russian-doll structure, and how he is trapped between layers, the past and the future. 11. “Lift the farm like a lid and see farm within farm and in the centre, me” Once again he is talking about how he is stuck between layers of the past and present. Although this time he isn’t talking about the people, this time he is talking about the farm that he grew up in.
It will change and most probably did during his lifetime. It has improved over the ages and the one he lives in now will be sandwiched by the ones in the past and the ones that are yet to come. Therefore by peeling back, we will find him at the centre. Note how once again he is at the centre as if he is at ‘the centre of the universe’ once again, after doing it time and time again, that he is the omniscient one in this world that is his mind. We can pair the Summer farm with The Cockroach in the sense that we see a reflection of the cockroach on the human, similar to how we see the dream world as a reflection of MacCaig.
Courtney from Study Moose
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