2Poem Structure Verse 1 – The dwarf Verse 2 – The priest Verse 3 – The tourists – and back to the dwarf.The poem begins and ends with the dwarf.This is an example of an effective conclusion when an article goes full circle.
3BackgroundOn a holiday to Assisi the poet Norman MacCaig goes on a guided tour of the church dedicated to St Francis of Assisi.On that tour he is struck by the contrast between the beauty of the church building and the miserable situation of a dwarf who is begging from the tourists.
9The poem’s main pointMacCaig wonders why the priest is looking after the needs of the tourists and is ignoring the needs of the dwarf.He realises that the spirit of St Francis is not found inside the church, or in the priest but in the inner beauty of the dwarf.
11Verse 1 – the dwarf The dwarf with his hands on backwards Sat, slumped like a half filled sackOn tiny twisted legs from which sawdust might run
12Sat slumped like half filled sack Alliteration of the letter sSounds like something deflatingDraws attention to the simile of the dwarf collapsed ‘like a half filled sack’The idea of collapsing is extended in the expression ‘from which sawdust might run.’
14Verse 2 – The PriestExplaining to tourists how the artist Giotto told the story of the goodness of God through frescoes“I understood the explanation and the cleverness”
15“cleverness” Giotto was clever in the way he designed the frescoes The priest was clever in his commercialisation of the church
16An extended metaphor MacCaig uses the image of hens “a rush of tourists clucking contentedly” (alliteration of letter c helps you to hear the noise they make)“Fluttered” suggests they are lightweight, not thinking much“scattered the grain of the word” – the grain is now for the tourist, not the poor as St Francis would have wanted
18Back to the dwarf Outwardly revolting “ruined temple” “eyes wept pus” “back higher than his head”“lopside mouth”
19The dwarf But inwardly beautiful “Grazie in a voice as sweet as a child’s when she speaks to her mother or a bird’s when it spoke to St Francis”The spirit of St Francis does not lie in the church building, or in the priest, but in the dwarf.
20St Francis“Grazie in a voice as sweet as a child’s when she speaks to her mother or a bird’s when it spoke to St Francis”