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

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Presentation on theme: "National 5 - Specified Texts “Memorial” Selected Poetry of Norman MacCaig."— Presentation transcript:

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

2 “Memorial” by Norman MacCaig

3 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

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 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

6 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)

7 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.

8 “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?

9 “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.

10 “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.

11 A closer look at “Memorial”

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

13 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.

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

15 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.

16 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.

17 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.

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

19 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.

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

21 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.

22 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.

23 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.

24 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.

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

26 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.

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

28 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.

29 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.

30 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.

31 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.

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

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

34 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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