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By Gillian Clarke. I can remember you, child, As I stood in a hot, white Room at the window watching The people and cars taking Turn at the traffic lights.

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Presentation on theme: "By Gillian Clarke. I can remember you, child, As I stood in a hot, white Room at the window watching The people and cars taking Turn at the traffic lights."— Presentation transcript:

1 By Gillian Clarke

2 I can remember you, child, As I stood in a hot, white Room at the window watching The people and cars taking Turn at the traffic lights. I can remember you, our first Fierce confrontation, the tight Red rope of love which we both Fought over. It was a square Environmental blank, disinfected Of paintings or toys. I wrote All over the walls with my Words, coloured the clean squares With the wild, tender circles Of our struggle to become Separate. We want, we shouted, To be two, to be ourselves. Neither won nor lost the struggle In the glass tank clouded with feelings Which changed us both. Still I am fighting You off, as you stand there With your straight, strong, long Brown hair and your rosy, Defiant glare, bringing up From the heart’s pool that old rope, Tightening about my life, Trailing love and conflict, As you ask may you skate In the dark, for one more hour. Catrin Gillian Clarke

3 I can remember you, child, As I stood in a hot, white Room at the window watching The people and cars taking Turn at the traffic lights. I can remember you, our first Fierce confrontation, the tight Red rope of love which we both Fought over. It was a square Environmental blank, disinfected Of paintings or toys. I wrote All over the walls with my Words, coloured the clean squares With the wild, tender circles Of our struggle to become Separate. We want, we shouted, To be two, to be ourselves. What is the poem about? Who is the child? Why would birth be a ‘fierce confrontation’? Neither won nor lost the struggle In the glass tank clouded with feelings Which changed us both. Still I am fighting You off, as you stand there With your straight, strong, long Brown hair and your rosy, Defiant glare, bringing up From the heart’s pool that old rope, Tightening about my life, Trailing love and conflict, As you ask may you skate In the dark, for one more hour.

4 Both mother and child fight for the child to be born. The mother’s pain and effort make the baby seem like an adversary that she must be free of, while the baby, tied by the umbilical cord struggles to emerge. ‘Fierce’ – tells us about the intensity of the birth process Taking all of this into account, why is birth seen as a confrontation? A confrontation is a fairly emotional moment when two people stand face to face and disagree with each other. What is the nature of the confrontation here? “I can remember you, our first Fierce confrontation” What sort of a fight can you see? What does ‘fierce’ suggest? Why would birth be a fierce confrontation?

5 “the tight Red rope of love which we both Fought over.” What do these lines refer to? Isn’t it like a tug of war? What could this tell us about the actual birth? What is the ‘red rope’? The umbilical cord has held mother and child together since conception. If the struggle is like a tug of war and they were fighting over the rope, this suggests that the mother wants the baby to be born, while the other (the baby) wants to stay where it is. This implies that the mother has to fight extremely hard to give birth while the baby resists it. There is a paradox though. What’s the paradox in these lines?paradox This is the first intimation of the struggle for selfhood and freedom as an individual that is all the more intense because it is one of love.

6 A paradox is a statement or concept that contains conflicting ideas. In logic, a paradox is a statement that contradicts itself; for example, the statement "I never tell the truth" is a paradox because if the statement is true, it must be false and if it is false, it must be true. In everyday language, a paradox is a concept that seems absurd or contradictory, yet is true. In a Windows environment, for instance, it is a paradox that when a user wants to shut down their computer, it is necessary to click "start". Paradox

7 The sterile ward is a: “…square Environmental blank, disinfected Of paintings or toys.” What do you think ‘environmental blank’ means? What is the effect of ‘square’ ? Explain ‘disinfected’ ? Why would there be no ‘paintings or toys’, even though this is a maternity ward?

8 ‘environmental blank’ refers to the sterile atmosphere of the ward, there is nothing on the walls whatsoever. A maternity ward has to be sterile, of course, free of infection. But the walls are there, blank, to be written and drawn on. The mother is able to view the walls as a canvas on which to write and paint the ‘fierce confrontation’. ‘square’ adds to the characterless appearance of the room. It is a uniform, absolutely regular shape, a direct contrast to the birth experience. ‘disinfected’ - obviously the room is disinfected because it’s in a hospital, but being disinfected of ‘paintings or toys’ emphasises its sterile character. We associate babies with ‘paintings or toys’, but in this case it is the mother who chooses to write all over the blank walls in her own way. “…square Environmental blank, disinfected Of paintings or toys.”

9 “wild, tender circles Of our struggle to become Separate”. What is the struggle ‘to become separate’ ? This obviously refers to the baby being born, for the mother to actually push the baby out and the umbilical cord to be cut. What are the ‘wild, tender circles’ of the birth? Perhaps ‘circles’ suggests the shape of the birth canal through which the baby emerges. In shape they contrast with squareness of the room. ‘Wild’ suggests to us that the struggle is intense and painful, almost out of control, yet paradoxically it is ‘tender’ at the same time. ‘Tender’ might refer to the type of physical sensation the speaker feels, or it could refer to the sort of love between the mother and baby.

10 “We want, we shouted, To be two, to be ourselves”. Do you think they literally ‘shouted’ their desire for separation? Perhaps the speaker did, but she is arguing on a metaphorical level here. We mustn’t forget that this is a ‘confrontation’, and carries with it the idea of words that are said in raised voices during an altercation. The literal meaning of the metaphor is that each participant wanted their own way. Their actions were shouting. ‘To be two’ means that the umbilical cord must be cut. Only in separation can they be themselves.

11 “Neither won nor lost the struggle In the glass tank clouded with feelings Which changed us both.” What changed them both? The struggle is over ‘Neither won nor lost’, the umbilical chord has been cut. Has the struggle ended with a truce? We are left with a feeling of a truce as ‘ Neither won nor lost’, there is a hint that something remains unresolved. “Still I am fighting You off” The big clue as to their being an unresolved conflict is found in the word ‘still’. Mother and daughter are in conflict over an issue that could arise during a normal day. ‘Fighting’ someone off implies both a physical struggle and an unwelcome assailant. This is the daughter she loves yet she experiences her as an intruder.

12 “…stand there With your straight, strong, long Brown hair and your rosy, Defiant glare” Comment on the use of alliteration and rhyme in these lines. All of this makes us realise that the ' fierce confrontation ' over the birth has become physical. Before the shouting was metaphorical now it is real and mother and daughter are having a real battle of wills. All of this makes us realise that the ' fierce confrontation ' over the birth has become physical. Before the shouting was metaphorical now it is real and mother and daughter are having a real battle of wills. The fight is emotional and the lines describe the child and how strong-willed she is. The alliteration and rhyme emphasise her defiance.

13 “…bringing up From the heart’s pool that old rope, Tightening about my life, Trailing love and conflict, As you ask may you skate In the dark, for one more hour.” What does the metaphor of the child and the rope imply? This is the pool of the heart, suggesting the depth of the speaker's feelings. The umbilical cord The fact that the child is bringing up the rope tells us that it is she who causes the latest confrontation and is calling up to the surface those feelings of love/conflict On one level this metaphor is of the child at a pool, bringing up an old rope which she tightens around her mother, while the end of the rope trails on the ground. On a deeper level what do the images mean? What does ‘From the heart’s pool’ suggest? What is the ‘old rope’?

14 “…bringing up From the heart’s pool that old rope, Tightening about my life, Trailing love and conflict, As you ask may you skate In the dark, for one more hour.” This suggests that the child is trapping her or limiting her in some way, reminding her that she is not an independent individual. What do you think the idea of the rope ' tightening ' about the speaker's life suggests? Should the mother have let her daughter go skating in the dark? Are parents too protective? Would you (will you) allow your children to take such risks?

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