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National 5 - Specified Texts “Memorial” Selected Poetry of Norman MacCaig.

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1 National 5 - Specified Texts “Memorial” Selected Poetry of Norman MacCaig

2 During the course of this unit we will: – Study a range of poems by the Scottish poet Norman MacCaig. – Look at the poems in detail (both in your group and individually), analyse the techniques used and their effectiveness. – Complete a variety of textual analysis questions on the poems in preparation for the Critical Reading exam. – Compare and contrast the poems. The Big Picture

3 I will: Develop my understanding of MacCaig’s work by studying, in detail, the techniques used by the poet and their effectiveness. Identify how the writer’s main theme or central concerns are revealed and can recognise how they relate to my own and others’ experiences identify and make a personal evaluation of the effect of aspects of the writer’s style and other features appropriate to genre using some relevant evidence and terminology. Learning Intentions

4 I can: Confidently discuss aspects of MacCaig’s work (such as language and imagery) using supporting evidence with my group. Confidently answer a variety of questions on the work of Norman MacCaig Confidently contribute my opinion and encourage others to express themselves Success Criteria

5 The national 5 course requires that each student has previously studied one of a selection of Scottish texts before they sit the exam. The following slides show section 2 of the final National 5 exam Why study these poems?

6 This section has two parts. In each part, one question will be chosen from a range of questions set to cover the genres of drama, prose or poetry. cannot use the same text twice In each part, you must cover a different genre and cannot use the same text twice. This Section will have 40 marks. Each Part will have 20 marks. Section 2: Critical Reading

7 Part A: Critical Essay You will answer one question from a range of questions. You will provide an extended written response, based on a previously studied text.

8 Part B: Scottish Texts You will answer one question from a range of questions, based on a list of specified Scottish texts. One extract from a previously studied specified Scottish text will be selected.

9 Part B: Scottish Texts You will answer one question from a range of questions, based on a list of specified Scottish texts. One extract from a previously studied specified Scottish text will be selected. The poems of Norman MacCaig will be our Scottish text.

10 Born in Edinburgh in 1910. Although he spent all his childhood and his later life in Edinburgh, his mother's Highland past was a great influence. MacCaig's mother was from Harris and the Gaelic heritage inherited had an enduring effect on MacCaig. MacCaig's attended the Royal High School and then Edinburgh University where he studied Classics and then trained to be a primary school teacher. During the war MacCaig refused to fight because he did not want to kill people who he felt were just the same as him. He therefore spent time in various prisons and doing land work. In 1967, MacCaig became the first Fellow in Creative Writing at Edinburgh University, and later at the University of Stirling. Background to the Poet

11 As he became older, MacCaig's fame spread and he received such honours as the O.B.E. and the Queen's Medal for Poetry, yet it was at home in Edinburgh and Assynt where he was probably most appreciated. This was evident at his 75th, 80th, and 85th birthday parties when the cream of the Scottish literati and musicians came together for readings and musical performances. By the time of his death in January 1996, Norman MacCaig was known widely as the grand old man of Scottish poetry. Background to the Poet

12 Assisi Visiting Hour Aunt Julia Basking Shark Memorial Sounds of the Day Specified Poems

13 “Memorial” by Norman MacCaig

14 I will: Develop my understanding of MacCaig’s work by studying, in detail, the techniques used by the poet and their effectiveness within the poem “Memorial”. Identify the writer’s main theme and recognise how it relates to my own and others’ experiences Identify and make a personal evaluation of the effect of aspects of the writer’s style and other features appropriate to genre using some relevant evidence and terminology. Learning Intentions

15 I can: Confidently discuss aspects of MacCaig’s work (such as language and imagery) using supporting evidence with my group. Confidently answer a variety of questions on the work of Norman MacCaig Confidently contribute my opinion and encourage others to express themselves Success Criteria

16 The title of the poem is “Memorial”. What words do you connect with this title? Write them in the box in your worksheet. TWO Now take TWO minutes and discuss this with your partner. Be ready to feedback to the class. Before Reading Task One

17 Task One - Class Ideas

18 A memorial is an object which serves as a focus for the memory of something, usually a person (who has died) or an event. Popular forms of memorials include landmark objects or art objects such as sculptures, statues or fountains, and even entire parks. The most common type of memorial is the gravestone or the memorial plaque. Also common are war memorials commemorating those who have died in wars. Memorial

19 “Memorial” by Norman MacCaig We are going to listen to Norman MacCaig introduce the poem “Memorial”. (lowest clip on page, 1min 50 into clip) As you listen, answer the questions on the following slide.

20 Listening Exercise - Questions 2.What event, according to MacCaig changed ‘death’ from more than just a concept?(1) 3.What examples does MacCaig use to show he has not really experienced death or grief until later in life?(2) 4.Why do you think MacCaig has written this poem? (1)

21 Listening Exercise - Answers 2.What event, according to MacCaig changed ‘death’ from more than just a concept?(1) The death of his friends. 3. What examples does MacCaig use to show he has not really experienced death or grief until later in life?(2) He has survived two wars and his parents both died in old age. 4. Why do you think MacCaig has written this poem? (1) He has written this poem in memory of his wife.

22 “Memorial” We will now listen closely to Norman MacCaig reading his poem. Listen carefully to the poem and follow it in your workbook. Now that we have heard the poem through once, you will re-read it yourself and answer the questions in your workbook.

23 “Memorial” Everywhere she dies. Everywhere I go she dies. No sunrise, no city square, no lurking beautiful mountain but has her death in it. The silence of her dying sounds through the carousel of language. It’s a web on which laughter stitches itself. How can my hand clasp another’s when between them is that thick death, that intolerable distance?

24 “Memorial” She grieves for my grief. Dying, she tells me that bird dives from the sun, that fish leaps into it. No crocus is carved more gently than the way her dying shapes my mind. – But I hear, too, the other words, black words that make the sound of soundlessness, that name the nowhere she is continuously going into.

25 “Memorial” Ever since she died she can’t stop dying. She makes me her elegy. I am a walking masterpiece, a true fiction of the ugliness of death. I am her sad music.

26 A closer look at “Memorial”

27 Group Activity We will now look at different areas of the poem in groups. Each group will be looking at either imagery, structure or word choice. In your group, discuss each question carefully and answer as fully as you can.

28 Group Activity When each group has completed their questions, we will create posters displaying what we have learned. These posters will be used to complete the analysis grids on the following pages of your workbook.

29 We will now share our understanding on imagery, structure and word choice between groups. Each group will leave their completed poster on the table and move to a different group. At this new table, you will annotate your own poem OR use the Quotation/Analysis table at the back of your workbook. You will have 8 minutes at each table- so do not waste this time! If you have any questions about the quotes, ask the teacher. Poster Activity

30 On the next few slides is some additional information about your areas of study. As we discuss these points, make notes in your workbook of any information you think is relevant. Class Discussion

31 Structure Everywhere she dies. Everywhere I go she dies. No sunrise, no city square, no lurking beautiful mountain but has her death in it.

32 Structure Everywhere she dies. Everywhere I go she dies. No sunrise, no city square, no lurking beautiful mountain but has her death in it. Short sentences add dramatic emphasis to opening. Repetition of “Everywhere” highlights how much the death has affected the speaker. This idea is continued with repetition of “No” in following line.

33 Structure How can my hand clasp another’s when between them is that thick death, that intolerable distance?

34 Structure How can my hand clasp another’s when between them is that thick death, that intolerable distance? Poet uses enjambment to highlight the distance between himself and his wife.

35 Structure No crocus is carved more gently than the way her dying shapes my mind. – But I hear, too, the other words, black words that make the sound of soundlessness, that name the nowhere she is continuously going into.

36 Structure No crocus is carved more gently than the way her dying shapes my mind. – But I hear, too, the other words, black words that make the sound of soundlessness, that name the nowhere she is continuously going into. Poet shows a change of tone here, suggesting a growing fear of death.

37 Structure I am a walking masterpiece, a true fiction of the ugliness of death. I am her sad music.

38 Structure I am a walking masterpiece, a true fiction of the ugliness of death. I am her sad music. Final line is simple and short to give it more emphasis. He compares himself to being the ‘sad music’ of her funeral. Free verse is used throughout, which reflects the poet’s confused feelings on her death.

39 Imagery The silence of her dying sounds through the carousel of language. It’s a web on which laughter stitches itself.

40 Imagery The silence of her dying sounds through the carousel of language. It’s a web on which laughter stitches itself. As a poet, words are hugely important to him. What he saw as a fun, bright, colourful and musical ride is now silenced by her death. Her death is now a web- he is unable to free himself from its hold. The word “stitches” suggests this hold is very strong.

41 Imagery No crocus is carved more gently than the way her dying shapes my mind. – But I hear, too, the other words, black words that make the sound of soundlessness, that name the nowhere she is continuously going into.

42 Imagery No crocus is carved more gently than the way her dying shapes my mind. – But I hear, too, the other words, black words that make the sound of soundlessness, that name the nowhere she is continuously going into. Compares her death to a crocus flower- beautiful, natural and fragile.

43 Imagery No crocus is carved more gently than the way her dying shapes my mind. – But I hear, too, the other words, black words that make the sound of soundlessness, that name the nowhere she is continuously going into. Compares her death to a crocus flower- beautiful, natural and fragile. Later in the stanza the imagery becomes much darker- these black words suggest a nothingness- the poet believes there is nothing after death.

44 Word Choice “is that thick death, that intolerable distance?”

45 Word Choice “is that thick death, that intolerable distance?” The poet uses the word thick, which is a strange word to use to describe death. It suggests it is surrounding him, like a fog perhaps. It also emphasises the distance that keeps him apart from others.

46 Word Choice “She grieves for my grief.” “the sound of soundlessness” “Ever since she died she can’t stop dying.”

47 Word Choice “She grieves for my grief.” “the sound of soundlessness” “Ever since she died she can’t stop dying.” She is sorry that he will be grieving for her.

48 Word Choice “She grieves for my grief.” “the sound of soundlessness” “Ever since she died she can’t stop dying.” She is sorry that he will be grieving for her. Absolute silence.

49 Word Choice “She grieves for my grief.” “the sound of soundlessness” “Ever since she died she can’t stop dying.” She is sorry that he will be grieving for her. Absolute silence. He is always thinking about her.

50 Word Choice “She grieves for my grief.” “the sound of soundlessness” “Ever since she died she can’t stop dying.” She is sorry that he will be grieving for her. Absolute silence. The poet uses paradoxes within the poem. These suggest that he cannot make sense of his wife’s death.

51 Thinking about the poem as a whole, what do you consider the main ideas or themes of the poem? Themes

52 Key Themes Facing Death (either the dying person, or the relative) Isolation surrounding death/emotion

53 Class Discussion Think about … Is it less of an ordeal for the dying person than the one left behind? Dying is something we have to do alone, despite being surrounded by loved ones? How realistic do you find the poet’s feelings?


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