Presentation on theme: "By Louis MacNeice ( , England)"— Presentation transcript:
1 By Louis MacNeice (1907-1063, England) PRAYER BEFORE BIRTHBy Louis MacNeice ( , England)
2 ABOUT THE POETBorn – 12 September 1907 Birth Place - Belfast, Ireland Graduation – Marlborough and Merton College, Oxford Died
3 HIS CAREERClassics lecturer at the University of Bermingham from 1930 – 1936.Greek lecturer at Bedford College for Women University of London until 1941.Staff writer and producer in BBC FROM 1942 – 1949.
4 ABOUT THE POEMWritten during the Second World War when Mac Neice volunteered as an air-raid warden.Experiences influenced his writing of this poem.Because the poet lets an unborn child speak, the poem stays relevant to all times and cultures.
5 TONE DESPAIR, SADNESS, PESIMISTIC The poet looks through the eyes of an unborn child.All the fears that face modern humanity.Asks God to spare him these terrors.
6 THEMESThe poem makes a statement on the deplorable state of the world.Living is a painful experience, being born is a terrifying one.Man’s inhumanity to man.Common human fears.Personal choices.Loss of human integrity and identity.The poem reflects the poet’s utter dejection and hopelessness expressing the thought that the world will not correct itself, but perpetuate its evils in an ever-ascending spiralling pattern of violence.
7 IMAGERY and POETIC TECHNIQUES The poet paints a picture of a world devoid of compassion, love and remorse through the haunting appeal of the unborn infant.APOSTROPHE: Not clear who is being addressed and the speaker is not part of the world.ENJAMBMENT: Emphasise the child’s impassioned plea.
8 STRUCTUREEach stanza grows in length and complexity as the poem develops.Free verse (no set rhyme or structural pattern)First person perspective – the speaker is the unborn child.Repetition (I am not yet born) followed by a logical progression of requests: “O hear me”, “console me” etc.Last two words of the first and last lines of each stanza rhyme.Indents – add to intensity of pleas.Short last stanza stands out.
10 I am not yet born; O hear me I am not yet born; O hear me. Let not the bloodsucking bat or the rat or the stoat or the club-footed ghoul come near me.pleadingREPETITION: Emphasises innocenceAlliteration
13 Medieval torture method I am not yet born; console me. I fear that the human race may with tall walls wall me, with strong drugs dope me, with wise lies lure me, on black racks rack me, in blood-baths roll me.Alliteration and AssonanceOxymoronMedieval torture method
16 I am not yet born; provide me With water to dandle me, grass to grow for me, trees to talk to me, sky to sing to me, birds and a white light in the back of my mind to guide me.givePersonificationMetaphor: Source of purity, conscience
19 I am not yet born; forgive me For the sins that in me the world shall commit, my wordswhen they speak me, my thoughts when they think me,my treason engendered by traitors beyond me,my life when they murder by means of myhands, my death when they live me.World/peoplePersonificationAlliterationParadox
21 STANZA 5: The child asks to be guided into the part he must act in this dramatic performance of life, so that he is able to perform his role correctly. That he’d be given all the right clues on how to react when important people lecture him or laugh at him.
22 I am not yet born; rehearse me In the parts I must play and the cues I must take whenold men lecture me, bureaucrats hector me, mountainsfrown at me, lovers laugh at me, the whitewaves call me to folly and the desert callsme to doom and the beggar refusesmy gift and my children curse me.Metaphor: Life on a stage vs. life consisting of different rolesPersonificationAlliteration
27 STANZA 7: He asks for the strength not to become a killing machine or just a part in a machine: He pleads that he be not allowed to become inhuman (a thing)Or something that is completely at the mercy of others.Or split as if he were just water.
28 I am not yet born; O fill me With strength against those who would freeze my humanity, would dragoon me into a lethal automaton, would make me a cog in a machine, a thing with one face, a thing, and against all those who would dissipate my entirety, would blow me like thistledown hither and thither or hither and thither like water held in the hands would spill me.Killing machineA nobodySociety will mould the child to become part of everything around him (worthless and insignificant) Links with World Wars.Simile: blown in every direction no control of where it lands.No control of water in cupped hands
33 ANSWERS1a Children fear ghouls / spirits. b Spook / boogie-man c Vampire 2 The holocaust of Nazi-Germany – WW2 The Russian Revolution The genocide of Rwanda in Africa Syrian gas attack (2013)
34 War in IraqCivil war in LibyaEgyptian Riots (2013)3a Actingb It is appropriate as we each play out / enact manydifferent roles in our lives.c “rehearse” “cue”4 Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin5 He fearsbecoming hardened and inhumanebeing weak and soft that people can manipulatehim into being part of terrible deeds like killingothers
35 6 “freeze my humanity” “dragoon me into a lethal automaton” “make me a cog in a machine” “a thing with one face” 7 “blow me like thistledown hither and thither” 8 a He does not want to become like a stone. A stone is hard and cold and lacks emotions / is heartless. b He does not want to be such a soft, weak person that people take advantage of him without care / respect, like spilling water.
36 9a Yes, if his prayers are answered he should be able to cope OR He is prepared for the worst in the world before arriving in it. b He needs a “white light” to guide him through the world. This could refer to a pure heart or a clean spirit, untainted by the evil around him. 10 He could be forced by those around him to kill. E.g. as a soldier who carries out orders. 11 If a beggar, who has nothing, refuses his gift, it would be the ultimate rejection. He would need advice on how to deal with this.
37 12 He would like to be strong enough to resist being manipulated and being pushed around by others.