Basking Shark - Norman MacCaig Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in Basking Shark - Norman MacCaig Deck (27)
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Structuring of repeated infinitive verbs of "to stub" "to have"

captures the readers attention, makes us wonder what is happening, adds tension - sense of immediacy


Word choice of "rock"

suggests the hardness and immovability of the object he has struck, therefore it must be of great mass, which is surprising considering his tranquil environment


Word choice/onomatopoeia of "stub"

suggests sudden and unexpected contact, portraying the poet's shock


Onomatopoeia of "slounge"

suggests the slow and relaxed movement of the shark coming out of the water - thought to be an amalgamation of the word "lounge" and "slouch" 


Word choice of "thing"

implies he cannot identify the experience, substantiating that he is scared


Parenthesis of "(too often)"

he does not want to repeat the experience


Word choice of "where none should be"

suggests idea of out of the ordinary


Word choice of "to have it rise"

shows disbelief at what is happening - a rock being inanimate shouldn't be doing this


Positioning of the word "But"

suggests a change in the speaker's thinking


Word choice of "not too often"

encounter wasn't too upsetting but doesn't want to repeat it


Word choice of "I count as gain"

implies something beneficial and positive about the experience


Metaphor "a sea tin-tacked with rain"

gives a mental picture of each raindrop


Alliteration of "tin-tacked"

captures the sound of the rain hitting the calm sea


Metaphor of "room sized monster" and "matchbox brain"

we associate rooms with being very large and matchboxes being very small so this comparison shows the relative diminutive capacity of the shark


The use of the metaphor "he displaced more than water"

this is both literal since the shark shifts a vast volume of water and metaphorical since it suggests the shark's presence shifted the speaker's thinking


Word choice of "shoggled"

Scot's word meaning an unsteady and wobbly lurch in the speaker's thinking back to the origins of life


Metaphor "decadent townee"

the speaker suggests that, to their detriment townspeople have become dissociated from nature - their lives are self-indulgent and hedonistic (lives devoted to enjoyment)


"centuries back"

implies that humanity is a long way away from "centuries back" when life was about survival


metaphor "shook on the wrong branch of his family tree"

literally and metaphorically disturbed by the experience 

"shook on the wrong branch" suggests that humans have become so intellectually superior that they believe they are no longer related


onomatopoeic "swish"/metaphoric "swish up the dirt and, when it settles, a spring/is all the clearer"

While initially the dirt would muddy the water and make it dark, opaque, and impossible to see through, eventually, once settled, it would be clearer. Metaphorically it means the encounter with the shark stirs up his MIND causing confusion but once settled, it clarifies his thinking


metaphor "in one fling, emerging from the slime of nothing"

he realises in one leap that all life originated from a primordial soup - the shark and humans stem from the same original source


Enormous philosophical question of "so who's the monster?"

he reflects on the nature of human beings


contrast between "twenty seconds" and "centuries back"

realisation of who is the monster only takes him twenty seconds after being thrown back twenty centuries


assonance of "pale" "sail after sail" "tail"

captures the elegance and gracefulness of the shark as it moves away from the speaker


"and then tail after tail"

suggests the slowness of the shark's movement


Word choice of "met"

conveys an impression of fraternity since despite humankind's superiority to nature, MacCaig ignores this stigma


"The thought made me grow pale" word choice

suggests the physical shock MacCaig feels as he realises humanity's insignificance