8St Francis Born at Assisi in Umbria, in 1181. He was the son of a rich merchant.After a care-free youth of fine clothes, partying and brawling, he turned his back on inherited wealth and committed himself to God.He then lived a very simple life of poverty. He gave up his shoes and fine clothes and became like the people he wanted to serve. He begged, preached and built shelters and places of worship for the poor.
9St Francis He is known for following Jesus’s example and helping the poorand outcast. He showed that every livingcreature, no matter how insignificant is worthyof compassion.He led a group of followers which became the Franciscan order of monks which still exists today and who dedicate their lives to helping the poor.
11St FrancisPeople with the contagious nerve/skin disease leprosy (which caused disfigurement and loss of limbs) were outcasts from society. People would not touch lepers. Francis looked after them.
12The Poem Situation Themes MacCaig observes a deformed beggar outside the Church of St Francis in the Italian town of Assisi. The beggar is ignored by the priest and tourists who are being shown Giotto’s famous frescoes.ThemesThe hypocrisy of the Church – basilica originally built to celebrate a man devoted to the poor, but now it has become celebrated for its architectural merit and the priceless frescoes by the artist Giotto which are housed within it.The plight/isolation of the disabled.Rich v. poor/social injustice.The apathy of society towards the less fortunate.
13Stanza One The dwarf with his hands on backwards sat, slumped like a half-filled sackon tiny twisted legs from whichsawdust might run,outside the three tiers of churches builtin honour of St Francis, brotherof the poor, talker with birds, over whomhe had the advantageof not being dead yet.
14The dwarf with his hands on backwards ‘Assisi’ - STANZA 1The dwarf with his hands on backwardssat, slumped like a half-filled sackon tiny twisted legs from whichsawdust might run,outside the three tiers of churches builtin honour of St Francis, brotherof the poor, talker with birds, over whomhe had the advantageof not being dead yet.Description of beggar in negative termsContrast with grand church and gentle saintJuxtaposition
15The dwarf with his hands on backwards ‘Assisi’ - STANZA 1The dwarf with his hands on backwardssat, slumped like a half-filled sackon tiny twisted legs from whichsawdust might run,WORD CHOICE: ‘dwarf’IMAGERY / TONE : ‘hands on backwards’ONOMATOPOEIA: ‘sat, slumped’SIMILE: ‘like a half-filled sack’ALLITERATION: ‘tiny twisted legs’METAPHOR: ‘from which sawdust might run’SOUNDS ‘s’ / ‘t’
16Effect / Purpose of lines 1-4 Effect - dehumanises the beggarPurpose – to shock readers into a reaction. Are we, like the tourists in the poem, apathetic to plight of the poor and disabled?MacCaig verbally thrusts the disabled beggar in our faces defying us to withhold our pity.
17‘Assisi’ - STANZA 1 lines 5-9 outside the three tiers of churches builtin honour of St Francis, brotherof the poor, talker with birds, over whomhe had the advantageof not being dead yet.Alliteration / Contrast : ‘three tiers of churches’Irony / Contrast: ‘in honour of St Francis, brother of the poor’Tone: (sarcasm) ‘over whom / he had the advantage / of not being dead yet’Positioning: ‘yet
18Stanza One - Juxtaposition Bringing two ideas (usually contrast) together for effect.Grotesquely disabled beggar placed outside architecturally elaborate and beautiful church.Highlights incongruity that such an architecturally complex building is used to honour a priest with such simple tastes.Contrast between what St Francis represented and how the church now chooses to honour him.Criticises the church which will spend a lot of money on lavish buildings, but give nothing to the poor.
19Stanza Two lines 10-17Moves inside the church where the priest, who is acting more as a tour guide is showing the aesthetic beauty of the church and showing the paintings depicting the word of God.
20Stanza TwoA priest explained how clever it was of Giotto to make his frescoes tell stories that would reveal to the illiterate the goodness of God and the suffering Of His Son. I understood the explanation and the cleverness.
21Negative Characterisation of the Priest Proud – shows off his church and its valuable paintingsSuperior / Pompous – ‘that would reveal to the illiterate’ - TONE / WORD CHOICE – Priest regards illiterate as inferior to himselfCondescending – TONE / WORD CHOICE – ‘how clever it was of Giotto’. Suggestion that he is almost giving Giotto a pat on the head, as if the priest is superior to Giotto.Commercial / materialistic – acting as some kind of tour guide. No doubt collecting tips when he should be more spiritually inclined.
22Negative Characterisation of the Priest Self-indulgent – more interested in aesthetic quality of the paintings than in pastoral duties.Hypocritical – talks about the ‘goodness of God and the suffering of His Son’, but ignores real human suffering which he should be trying to alleviate himself as well as bringing it to the notice of the people he is instructing.
23Cliché – lost all meaning Stanza 2, lines 10-17A priest explained how clever it was of Giotto to make his frescoes tell stories that would reveal to the illiterate the goodness of God and the suffering of His Son. I understood the explanation and the cleverness.EnjambmentCliché – lost all meaningCynical/critical/unimpressed - portraying superficial message but ignoring the need for charity.
24Stanza Two lines 10-17A priest explained how clever it was of Giotto to make his frescoes tell stories that would reveal to the illiterate the goodness of God and the suffering Of His Son. I understood the explanation and the cleverness.Tone : ‘I understood / the explanation and/ the clevernessPunctuation: full stop after Son.Positioning / Ambiguity : ‘cleverness’Irony: whole stanza
25Stanza 3 Introduction of the tourists. Priest continues to show the crowd around. They ignore the beggar.Further brutal description of beggar – list of deformities. Anti-climax – surprising description of beggar’s voice which is “sweet” and “gentle”.
26Stanza 3, lines 18-27 the ruined temple outside, whose eyes A rush of tourists, clucking contentedly,fluttered after him as he scatteredthe grain of the Word. It was they who had passedthe ruined temple outside, whose eyeswept pus, whose back was higherthan his head, whose lopsided mouthsaid Grazie in a voice as sweetas a child’s when she speaks to her motheror a bird’s when it spoketo St Francis.
27Stanza 3A rush of tourists, clucking contentedly, fluttered after him as he scattered the grain of the Word.lines extended metaphorAbsentmindedly following -Not understanding message - highlights the hypocrisy of the church and apathy of society to the poor and disabled.Attitude towards priest and tourists - Unfavourable/ disapproving.More interested in looking like good Christians than actually being one.
28Stanza 3 grain of the Word. It was they who had passed the ruined temple outside, whose eyeswept pus, whose back was higherthan his head, whose lopsided mouthJuxtaposition: ‘passed’Word Choice: ‘It was they’Metaphor / Irony : ‘Ruined temple’Imagery: ‘ whose back was higher/ than his head’Tone: ‘whose eyes…lopsided mouth’Religious allusions
29Anti Climax-emphasise inner beauty/contrast with appearance Stanza 3Anti Climax-emphasise inner beauty/contrast with appearancesaid Grazie in a voice as sweetas a child’s when she speaks to her motheror a bird’s when it spoketo St Francis.InnocenceFinal line is a reference to St Francis which drives home the poet’s message and condemnation of those who ignore his preaching in favour of admiring physical beauty.
30Stanza 3 said Grazie in a voice as sweet Similesaid Grazie in a voice as sweetas a child’s when she speaks to her motheror a bird’s when it spoketo St Francis.Irony: ‘Grazie’Simile: ‘As sweet as a child’s’Final two lines: ‘Or a bird’s when it spoke/ to St Francis’
31Form and Structure Three distinct stanzas Stanza 1: speaker introduces us to dwarf begging outside the basilicaStanza 2: focuses on priest who is acting as a tour guideStanza 3: examines the tourists’ reaction to the dwarf
32Form and StructureEach stanza begins with introduction of one character / character group:1. emphasises the lack of anyreal contact between them2. emphasises isolation of the beggar
33Form and Structure Poem begins and ends with beggar – brutal language at start, sweetness emphasisedat end.Poem returns at end to St Francis to remind us of ironic position of beggar and to instensify MacCaig’s criticism of a priest and a religion that place more value on fine buildings and valuable paintings than on the well-being of its parishioners.
34Juxtaposition1. Grotesquely disabled beggar placed outside elaborate and beautiful church.2. Tourists walk past beggar to view frescoeswhich depict suffering of Christ, whilstignoring the real suffering of the beggar.
35ContrastBetween ugly deformed beggar and elaborate church he is sitting in front of.Between actions of St Francis and the actions of religious people in the modern world.Contrast between what the priest preaches and what he practices.Contrast between dwarf’s appearance and reality.
36IronyContrast between what might be expected to happen and what does happen.Instead of administering to the poor of his parish, the priest acts like a tour guide.The Church is dedicated to St Francis ‘brother / of the poor’, yet a beggar sitting outside it is ignored.
37Form and Structure Free verse Irregular stanzas creates a conversational styleLanguage is deliberately unsophisticated – makes poem more accessible.
38Attitude of MacCaig Compassion towards beggar Angry at the way people in general neglect needy members of our societyAnger at fact that Church does not appear to help those who need it most
39Theme: Homework The hypocrisy of the Church. The plight/isolation of the disabled.Rich v. poor/social injustice.The apathy of society towards the less fortunate.