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Assisi by Norman MacCaig


Assisi by Norman MacCaig Success Criteria I will successfully annotate my poem. I will learn about the poem 'Assisi'. I will build my analysis skills. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Assisi by Norman MacCaig

Assisi by Norman MacCaig
Success Criteria I will successfully annotate my
  • I will learn about the poem 'Assisi'.
  • I will build my analysis skills.

Initial Response
  • What did you enjoy about the text?
  • What images were the most striking and why?
  • What do you think are the main ideas and themes?
  • What did you notice about the way it is written?

  • Assisi is a town in Italy. Can you think of
    anyone you would associate Assisi with?
  • St Francis of Assisi is a very famous saint, who
    is the patron saint of animals.
  • He abandoned his life of luxury and after working
    and living with the poor, decided to live in
    poverty in order to devote himself to God.
  • With this is mind, let's read the poem...

The poem...
  • The poem, again, is structured in free verse
    which allows a far more free approach to the
    telling of the story.
  • The speaker is on a visit to Assisi, visiting the
    famous Renaissance churches, when he sees a poor
    beggar begging on the steps of the church.
  • This leads him to a much deeper revelation about
    poverty and hypocrisy. We would consider these
    ideas to be the theme.

The poems main point
  • MacCaig wonders why the priest is looking after
    the needs of the tourists and is ignoring the
    needs of the dwarf.
  • He realises that the spirit of St Francis is not
    found inside the church, or in the priest but in
    the inner beauty of the dwarf.

The focus...
  • The poem has 4 distinct focuses and in the
    following order -
  • The dwarf
  • The priest
  • The tourists
  • The dwarf

The dwarf with his hands on backwards/ sat,
slumped like a half-filled sack/
  • The opening lines create a horrible image that
    conveys how twisted and deformed this person is.
  • Alliteration of 's' implies something that is
    deflated, empty.
  • Simile compares him to a half-filled sack,
    something that is unattractive and shapeless.
  • The mention of the dwarf makes it evident that he
    will be the focus of the first stanza.

On tiny twisted legs from/ which sawdust might
  • Alliteration of 'T' is literally uncomfortable to
    say, suggesting that the dwarf is continuously
  • The second line continues the idea of the sack,
    suggesting the dwarf is weak and lifeless.
  • The image is created of the dwarfs legs being
    wooden-like, as though turned on a lathe,
    creating a twisted effect.

outside the three tiers of churches built in
honour of St Francis, brother of the poor,
talker with birds, over whom he had the
advantage of not being dead yet.
  • Irony is used here, in the narrative development,
    as the dwarf is begging outside a church built in
    honour of someone who loved the poor. There is
    evident hypocrisy here.
  • The tone is one of derision when he talks about
    the only difference between the dwarf and the
    saint being that the dwarf is not yet dead. The
    use of advantage conveys this tone of derision,
    as we know he has no advantages.

Stanza 2...
  • A 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.
  • The focus shifts to the priest, who is leading a
    tour around the church.
  • Explaining to tourists how the artist Giotto
    told the story of the goodness of God through
  • I understood the explanation and the cleverness

  • The use of this word is ambiguous. The artist,
    Giotto is clever because he was an artist who was
    able to convey this. But the second meaning is
    that the priest is clever in commercialising, and
    using the history of St Francis, to make money.
  • Enjambment is used to highlight '...and the
    cleverness', conveying that is the speaker's
    overwhelming impression.
  • The short, sharp sentence structure of I
    understood... highlight the derisive tone.

Stanza 3
  • The focus shifts from the priest to the tourists
    and helps us understand why hypocrisy is apparent
    in this ironic situation. MacCaig explores the
    tourists' ignorance through an extended metaphor.

A rush of tourists, clucking contentedly,
fluttered after him as he scattered the grain
of the Word.
  • MacCaig uses the image of hens
  • a rush of tourists clucking contentedly
    (alliteration of letter c helps you to hear the
    noise they make)
  • Fluttered suggests they are lightweight, not
    thinking much
  • scattered the grain of the word the grain is
    now for the tourist, not the poor, as St Francis
    would have wanted

It was they who had passed the ruined temple
  • The poet compares the dwarf to a temple, in a
    metaphor that implies he is sacred and holy.
  • The word choice of ruined suggests that the
    poet feels he has been devastated, broken etc.

whose eyes wept pus, whose back was higher than
his head, whose lopsided mouth
  • The dwarf is outwardly revolting, as conveyed by
    the description that builds on the idea of
  • eyes wept pus
  • back higher than his head
  • lopsided mouth
  • This is MaCaig's attempt to show us that he is
    unsightly and thus, something the tourists would
    choose to ignore. This description develops the
    idea that he is repulsive.

said Grazie in a voice as sweet as a child's
when she speaks to her mother or a bird's when
it spoke to St Francis.
  • However he is inwardly beautiful and this is what
    the speaker becomes aware of...
  • The simile used highlights for us the innocence
    of the dwarf and the beauty that is inside him.
  • He is also compared to a bird a creature that
    St Francis would have loved.
  • The spirit of St Francis does not lie in the
    church building, or in the priest, but in the
    dwarf and the speaker comes to recognise this.

  • Hypocrisy is explored on a very evident level
    outside a grand and very beautiful church that is
    dedicated to a man who loved the poor, a dwarf
    begs for cash while tourists wilfully pay to see
    the church.
  • The comment here is about the hypocrisy of us as
    humans and how we are only attracted to that
    which is appealing, rather than real.