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Norman MacCaig Poetry


of God and the suffering. of His Son. I understood. the explanation and. ... as a child's when she speaks to her mother. or a bird's when it spoke. to St Francis. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Norman MacCaig Poetry

Norman MacCaig Poetry
Our tasks today
  • To find out who Norman MacCaig is
  • Step 1
  • Using the laptops, and in pairs,you are going to
    create a short presentation explaining who Norman
    MacCaig is
  • Step 2
  • Sign up to Edmodo (Group code is mer9us)
  • Step 3
  • Post your completed presentation to our Edmodo

Your presentation should include
  • His name
  • His year of birth/his year of death (if
  • Where he was born, where he grew up, and where he
    lived as an adult
  • His education
  • His family life
  • Any significant events in his life
  • Any awards
  • Anything you can find about his perspective on

Themes in Norman MacCaig's Poetry
  • The importance of observing people, places and
    things from different perspectives.
  • Challenging preconceived notions.
  • Asking questions about life.

What does he write about?
  • Highland settings and subjects
  • The poet's travels to Italy
  • Animals
  • Sympathy and skepticism
  • Personal feeling

The Poems what do you think they are about?
  • Assisi
  • Aunt Julia
  • Visiting Hour
  • Basking Shark
  • Sounds of the Day
  • Memorial

Norman MacCaig interview

  • 'Assisi' is a poem designed to shake the reader
    out of their apathy and start their search for
    their own clarity.

Poverty Hypocrisy

St Francis of Assisi
  • Patron saint of animals, merchants and ecology
  • Birth 1181 in Assisi in Umbria (originally
    named Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone)
  • Death 1226
  • Italian Catholic friar and preacher
  • Son of a wealthy silk merchant and thoroughly
    enjoyed the high life

St Francis of Assisi
  • Went to war and came back to continue carefree
  • Fell ill and had a vision
  • He decided to change his ways and decided to live
    in poverty (was criticised for this)
  • Nursed lepers
  • Eventually started preaching far and wide
  • Disowned his father who was angry at him over his
  • Founder of the Fransciscan Orders who believe
    that poverty is the way to imitate the life of

Assisi background
  • Location of Assisi

  • Describes a visit to the Basilica of St. Francis
    of Assisi
  • Built in honour of St Francis of Assisi, someone
    who devoted his life to poverty and the poor
  • Writer points out the hypocrisy of the Basilica
    in that it was constructed to celebrate the
    ideologies of St Francis, but is only recognised
    for its splendour (meanwhile someone living in
    poverty is outside being ignored/avoided)

Your Task
  • Create a presentation that explains one ofthe
    following (you will explain it to the class)
  • Giotto's frescoes
  • Seed reference from Luke 85-11 (biblical
  • Reference to body being a temple from Corinthians
    619 (biblical reference)
  • Reference to the word of God in John 11
    (biblical reference)
  • Story of the beggar and St Francis
  • St Francis as the feeder of birds

  • Free verse used to better communicate MacCaigs
  • Verse 1 about the dwarf
  • Verse 2 about the priest
  • Verse 3 about the tourists and back to the dwarf

  • Bitter and cynical

Key Themes
  • The Church Hypocrisy
  • Isolation of the disabled/ill
  • Inner and outer beauty
  • Social contrast/injustice

Poetic Techniques
  • Using the sheet you have been given, go through
    each technique listed and identify these in your
    copy of the poem.
  • Highlight, circle, or underline the technique and
    label which one it is with an arrow.
  • This is how you would treat the poems in your
    exam and will make the next task much easier.

  • The dwarf with his hands on backwards
  • sat, slumped like a half-filled sack
  • on tiny twisted legs from which
  • sawdust might run,
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • A rush of tourists, clucking contentedly,
  • fluttered after him as he scattered
  • the grain of the Word. It was they who had passed
  • the ruined temple outside, whose eyes
  • wept pus, whose back was higher
  • than his head, whose lopsided mouth
  • 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.

Identifying Poetic Techniques in the Poem
Look over the poem and see if you can identify
any techniques. Break down your findings into the
three stanzas. Copy the table below into your
jotter. You will need to add more rows.
Stanza Technique What does it suggest?
one Simile- slumped like a half-filled sack The dwarfs posture is being compared to a limp, inanimate object. This dehumanises the dwarf and makes him appear unnatural.
Some questions on the poem
  • What does the title of the poem suggest to the
  • In stanza 1 our focus is on the dwarf. What type
    of image is painted of the dwarf and what words
    or phrases reveal this?
  • Explain the twist/stance at the end of stanza
  • Who is the focus on in stanza 2 and what is the
    purpose of this focus?
  • Explain what the end of stanza 2 suggests to the
    reader and what tone is being used?
  • There is a change of focus again as we move to
    stanza 3. Who is the focus on now and what
    techniques help to explain this focus?
  • What do the words ruined temple and eyes wept
    pus suggest about the physical and/or mental
    state of the dwarf?
  • What does the simile as sweet as a childs
    suggest to the reader regarding the
    nature/personality of the dwarf and his voice?
  • The final twist. Explain the complex idea of this
    stance/twist by referring to word choice and any
    connotations that may arise.

Essay Question exam conditions in one lesson
  • Choose a poem that creates an atmosphere of
    sadness/pity or loss. Show how the poet creates
    the atmosphere and what effect it has on your
    response to the subject matter. You should refer
    to the text and such relevant features such as
    word choice, imagery, tone, content, rhythm and