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“Revelation” by Liz Lochhead is a poem that vividly describes a bull. The menace of his nature is then tied in with the rest of the poem. The title shows that this is a poem about a discovery in that something is revealed. This poem is in first person narrative and we know this was a single moment in her life as it happened “once”. The theme throughout the poem is how this bull represents men. Lochhead was around eleven years old when adults led her to the bull.
This can also represent her being introduced into adult life. It doesn’t matter who “They” are as it is not important who it was.
However this event was an important memory to her, as seeing the bull was so intense for her she could not remember the smaller details. The alliteration of “black bull” makes it bold and seem important as its not any old bull. This alliteration of “b” is continued in “Bob”.
Lochhead uses the word “monster” to describe the bull. This is deliberate as this is how many young children view scary things. The remainder of this stanza is a vivid description of the bull. Liz Lochhead is appealing to the readers’ sense of sound, smell and sight.
This allows the reader to get more involved in the poem as if they were the small girl. The onomatopoeia in “clanging” and “trampling” of the bull reinforces its great masculine strength. This is appealing to sound which creates its menacing sense and its sinister nature.
She sees the black bull as evil and its “edges merging with the darkness” gives the sheer size of him. Also “darkness” has connotations with evil and the devil; especially as the bull is merging with the darkness it is as if the bull is becoming the devil.
The smell of the bull is described as “immense” illustrating how extreme the stench of the bull is. He is all sweaty and hot, which gives an image of a disgusting beast that the girl doesn’t want to be near. There is a personal pronoun “he” which illustrates he is in control. After Lochhead appeals to the readers sense’s she follows this with the last three sentences referring to the bull’s senses. In stanza two the girl goes outside. She sees the hens, which are in contrast with the bull. The hens symbolise females with their caring nurturing side. They are “oblivious” of what the girl has just witnessed.
The hens don’t see how threatening the bull is anymore, as they have become use to its noise and nature. The hens only hear “tinkling” of the bull, which is a calm smooth sound, a complete opposite of what the girl hears. This is showing the hens are the older females and are no longer in fear whereas the young girl is still growing. The girl refers to the bull by giving it the title “Black Mass” which has a catholic connotation and also is describing how big the bull is. As the girl runs down the lane away from the bull she notes her “pigtails thumping alien” on her back.
The pigtails are a symbol of her innocents and she now understands men are evil as she is growing up and she is losing her innocents. She past some “big boys” whom she is scared of as they are like the “black bull”. They also have a menacing nature as they sat and “pulled the wings from butterflies and blew up frogs with straws”. She then starts to see evil everything around her even nature with “thorned hedges and harried nests”. Lochhead becomes scared and vulnerable as her she has a “small and shaking hand” showing her fear. After passing these boys she makes sure she doesn’t shatter her eggs or spill her milk.
This all has the theme of her trying to protect her virginity and innocence against mans badness. Liz Lochhead has a lot of intensity with her imagery throughout the poem. Her description of the bull from a child’s perspective gives a clear image of how terrifying a child sees this huge black bull with its menacing nature. This poem has a great underlying theme of men being evil and yet women accept this. Although now the girl is growing up she does see the evil men and will protect herself from them. Hence her desire to protect her eggs and milk.
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