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Forum Home > Poetry > Tackling the Unseen

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 920

Oliver Tearle at February 24, 2016 at 2:59 PM

I agree - and do you think the form of the poem towards the end reflects this? How does it change towards the end?

Peters out, runs out of fuel?

February 24, 2016 at 3:01 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Hope
Member
Posts: 55

Oliver Tearle at February 24, 2016 at 2:59 PM

I agree - and do you think the form of the poem towards the end reflects this? How does it change towards the end?

Yes, the form also breaks down and diminishes from the substantial stanzas earlier

February 24, 2016 at 3:02 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Oliver Tearle
Member
Posts: 76

Ah yes - the stanzas get shorter, the syntax seems more controlled and calm. And of course the chainsaw is put away for another year - whereas the grass will steadily grow and grow...

February 24, 2016 at 3:03 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Oliver Tearle
Member
Posts: 76

It's also interesting that there seems to be more of a hint of rhyme towards the end: moon/June, crown/on, forget/got. Still not all complete rhymes, but they perhaps suggest more harmony and agreeability than the earlier sections - echoing the fact that the noisy chainsaw's destruction has ceased?

February 24, 2016 at 3:05 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 920

Though that seething 'ee' sound, like hissing of the chainsaw's teeth, runs through the last stanza.

February 24, 2016 at 3:07 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Hope
Member
Posts: 55

Oliver Tearle at February 24, 2016 at 3:05 PM

It's also interesting that there seems to be more of a hint of rhyme towards the end: moon/June, crown/on, forget/got. Still not all complete rhymes, but they perhaps suggest more harmony and agreeability than the earlier sections - echoing the fact that the noisy chainsaw's destruction has ceased?

And the fact that images like the 'moon' are much more conventionally poetic than a chainsaw, again perhaps suggesting a return to order or harmony because the reader would recognise that sort of image in the context of poetry.

February 24, 2016 at 3:09 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Oliver Tearle
Member
Posts: 76

Neil Bowen at February 24, 2016 at 3:07 PM

Though that seething 'ee' sound, like hissing of the chainsaw's teeth, runs through the last stanza.

Good point - 'seethed' suggesting (and looking back to) the mention of it 'grinding its teeth' early on in the poem? But also 'seethed' is picked up on by 'dreams' and 'seamless', in the ensuing lines - echoing the fact that the chainsaw's unrest continues?

February 24, 2016 at 3:10 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Oliver Tearle
Member
Posts: 76

Yes, the moon suggesting the natural world as well as the more typically poetic - a symbol of placidity?

February 24, 2016 at 3:12 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Oliver Tearle
Member
Posts: 76

'Corn in Egypt' is also intriguing - of course, both corn and pampas are grasses, but this is a Biblical allusion to ideas of abundance and plenty...

February 24, 2016 at 3:13 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 920

Oliver Tearle at February 24, 2016 at 3:12 PM

Yes, the moon suggesting the natural world as well as the more typically poetic - a symbol of placidity?

Is it also a symbol of female power, perhaps? What do you make of the reference to 'Corn in Egypt'? Egypt seems rather a long fetch for a poem so English.

February 24, 2016 at 3:13 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Oliver Tearle
Member
Posts: 76

Great minds! I think it certainly suggests female power and the fact that women can bring forth new life. The (male-associated) chainsaw can only destroy, with its teeth and its rage...

February 24, 2016 at 3:16 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Hope
Member
Posts: 55

The religious connotations of the 'corn in Eygpt' could be seen to be enforced by the image of the 'crown' because of the idea of royals being chosen by God, with a divine right to rule. Perhaps suggesting that 'God' is on the side of the pampas grass?

February 24, 2016 at 3:17 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Oliver Tearle
Member
Posts: 76

It also universalises the idea - pampas grass is South American, the corn is in Egypt, and the poet writing about these is English. Destruction is found everywhere, but life goes on - nature has an inbuilt power to regenerate and renew, just as we have a 'new moon' every month.

February 24, 2016 at 3:18 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 920

Oliver Tearle at February 24, 2016 at 3:18 PM

It also universalises the idea - pampas grass is South American, the corn is in Egypt, and the poet writing about these is English. Destruction is found everywhere, but life goes on - nature has an inbuilt power to regenerate and renew, just as we have a 'new moon' every month.

Yes, good point. And the Biblical allusion suggests the pattern of destruction and regeneration has been recurring throughout history perhaps.

February 24, 2016 at 3:20 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Oliver Tearle
Member
Posts: 76

Hope at February 24, 2016 at 3:17 PM

The religious connotations of the 'corn in Eygpt' could be seen to be enforced by the image of the 'crown' because of the idea of royals being chosen by God, with a divine right to rule. Perhaps suggesting that 'God' is on the side of the pampas grass?

That's very good. 'Corn' chimes with 'crown' too - the 'crown' ending one line and the 'Corn' heading (or crowning) the next. And the chainsaw ends up 'below stairs' - if the grass is crowned king (or rather queen), then this chainsaw is in the servants' quarters!

February 24, 2016 at 3:21 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Oliver Tearle
Member
Posts: 76

Neil Bowen at February 24, 2016 at 3:20 PM

Oliver Tearle at February 24, 2016 at 3:18 PM

It also universalises the idea - pampas grass is South American, the corn is in Egypt, and the poet writing about these is English. Destruction is found everywhere, but life goes on - nature has an inbuilt power to regenerate and renew, just as we have a 'new moon' every month.

Yes, good point. And the Biblical allusion suggests the pattern of destruction and regeneration has been recurring throughout history perhaps.

Yes, since the days of the Old Testament - indeed, since Genesis, the book that deals with the beginning of life, nature, the world, mankind. These patterns have been there forever. This is especially noteworthy given the chainsaw is such a comparatively recent invention. But the thing it is used for is not new.

February 24, 2016 at 3:23 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 920

So, could we put a poem such as Shelley's Ozymandias or Wordsworth's Nutting along side Armitage's do you think? I've called his poem 'domestic Romantic'. Do you think that's about right? 

February 24, 2016 at 3:25 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Oliver Tearle
Member
Posts: 76

I wonder about the ecological aspect of the poem too - given the pampas grass, it puts me in mind of the destruction of the rainforests and the uprooting of indigenous peoples. Look how the chainsaw is associated with a 'gun' but the grass is described as 'spears' - a weapon that doesn't stand much chance against bullets...

February 24, 2016 at 3:27 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Oliver Tearle
Member
Posts: 76

'Domestic Romantic' is a very apt label. It deals with the same concerns as have often been found in Romanticism, especially man's destruction of the natural world. But it does focus on a very small incident which has much wider associations and ramifications. 'Ozymandias' is a great choice - the masculine might of empires ultimately brought low by time's, and nature's, hand.

February 24, 2016 at 3:30 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 920

Modern technology seems to outgun nature. But on bigger scale nature might have the last laugh...:) I'm going to have to check out of our discussion now. Thanks Oliver for giving both your time and expertise and to Hope for your excellent contributions. I hope our discussion will be useful for everyone followoing online. If you have any further thoughts or questions on this poem or any of the others in the Forward anthology, post into the forums and we'll do our best to answer them. Thanks everyone and good luck with the exams!

February 24, 2016 at 3:31 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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