Like a candle

Poetry is great

Poetry is grand

Almost like a soup that you pour out of a can.

I tell them no! but they don’t understand

Weighing out problems by the gram.

Forever eternally dammed.

Can I be held accountable?

Can anyone

As we slyly manipulate the young

Cruel bitter words on the tip of our tongs.

This life is breaking me bit by bit

Ticking days rolling in like mist.

Like a candle that’s already been lit

Go ahead burn all of it!  

We begged for some bread  

While you bathed in wine.

You stole all that was mine!

Then I Grew

I wake screaming in the night

God’s grip around me hard and tight.

As blackie watches from the windowsill

Oh I wish, I pray I could see him still.

But I am blind and I am bitter

I sit and wait for the harsh winter.

 

If only he could see me now

His frown a downturned smile

of victory

oh not oh not for me

 

For here I sit and slowly decay.

I cough and splutter in the rain

grow restless at the passing days.

 

As a child, I thought you were the only one.

Oh pretty blackbird

but as I grew

I looked and knew that there were many of you.

 

Yet still I glance through the windowpane

Stained with dirt and grit and fingerprints of many.

I think of you

oh pretty blackbird

The true love I only knew

but then I grew.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aunt Julia Analysis

:Please note this is my own interpretation of the poem by the writer Norman MacCaig and may not be correct.

Aunt Julia Is one of my favourite poems by MacCaig. Its quite a melancholy poem and has connotations to death. Yet MacCaigs depiction of his Aunt Julia is a very fond one.

Stanza one

Aunt Julia spoke Gaelic
very loud and very fast.
I could not answer her —
I could not understand her.

In this stanza we are introduced to the main character of the poem Aunt Julia. We are told that she speaks Gaelic this immediately tells us there is a communication barrier. “I could not answer her – I could not understand her” This for me also has connotations of death “I could not answer her ” shows his desperation and grief and also shows us that MacCaig perhaps feels guilty about his relationship with his aunt that he never really understood her and never will understand her.

Stanza Two

She wore men’s boots
when she wore any.
— I can see her strong foot,
stained with peat,
paddling with the treadle of the spinningwheel
while her right hand drew yarn
marvellously out of the air.

In stanza two the opening lines are “She wore men’s boots when she wore any” This shows that she is perhaps a very tough woman who almost takes on a mans role. “I can see her strong foot stained with peat” This reveals that the character is a woman of the land. “Paddling with the treadle of the spinning wheel while her right hand drew yarn marvellously out of the air” This shows a more domesticated side to Aunt Julia. This is a skill heavily associated with island life – Harris is famous for producing tweed. The word choice of “Marvellously” shows the young MacCaigs admiration and fondness for his aunt. The use of the present tense throughout this stanza creates a sense of immediacy and shows how vividly and readily he can still access these memories.

Stanza Three

Hers was the only house
where I’ve lain at night
in the absolute darkness
of a box bed, listening to
crickets being friendly.

MacCaig decides to open the stanza with the word choice of hers. Which shows his affection for her and the bond they had. In the absolute darkness again has connotations of death and reiterates the theme to the reader with the darkness being symbolic of death and despair. It has links to the final stanza where Aunt Julia is “Silenced in the absolute black”

Stanza Four 

She was buckets
and water flouncing into them.
She was winds pouring wetly
round house-ends.
She was brown eggs, black skirts
and a keeper of threepennybits
in a teapot.

The writer uses personification and metaphors in this stanza to connect Aunt Julia to the landscape and objects. MacCaig connects his aunt with mundane domestic objects which symbolise her simple minimalistic lifestyle. “She was winds pouring wetly round house-ends” This connects his aunt to nature and is also perhaps symbolic of his despair.

Stanza five

Aunt Julia spoke Gaelic
very loud and very fast.
By the time I had learned
a little, she lay
silenced in the absolute black
of a sandy grave
at Luskentyre. But I hear her still, welcoming me
with a seagull’s voice
across a hundred yards
of peat scrapes and lazybeds
and getting angry, getting angry
with so many questions
unanswered.

The main theme of death is shown in the last stanza. There is a bitter despair to MacCaigs tone. He uses the word choice of “Silenced” to suggest perhaps Aunt Julia lived her whole life in silence isolated by the communication barrier and her geographical area. “In the absolute black” Is again symbolic of death.

 

 

Lang Town

 

 

Over the tarmac hill we rumble

Amongst the sea of rapeseed fields.

With hunched backs and crinkled smiles

Hopeless silhouettes collected together on dampened bus seats.

 

Kirkcaldy lies just ahead

A town stood amongst the remains of coal dust.

Where once there was a promise of wealth for all

Hope Snuffed from the everyday man

by the bitter dead end of industry.

 

Cracks plastered over in the digital stream

A future generation of idle idealists

Deluded to the mess.

 

Under the arch we stoop in our stuffy double decker Skelton.

Through the moulded edged window, you can glance

At where Sea field used to sit.

The resting coal dust lies beneath

A housing estate for the destitute rich.

 

Yet the warm glow spreads from stranger’s eyes

To disguise the dampened corners.

and sooth the ever-closing fears that linger

under blue tinted finger nails.