Norman MacCaig 'Memorial' Flashcards Preview

English National 5 4A5 > Norman MacCaig 'Memorial' > Flashcards

Flashcards in Norman MacCaig 'Memorial' Deck (19):
1

What is the poem 'Memorial' written in the style of?

An elegy.

2

How does MacCaig immediately introduce the theme of grief to the poem in the opening line?

Blunt opening line - immediately emphasises the constant impact of his loved one’s death. Repetition of ‘everywhere’ - suggests that the poet cannot escape the awareness of the death of his loved one. Statements are simple and direct to show the directness and bluntness of his feelings.

3

“Everywhere she dies. Everywhere I go she dies.”

Blunt opening line - immediately emphasises the constant impact of his loved one’s death. Repetition of ‘everywhere’ - suggests that the poet cannot escape the awareness of the death of his loved one. Statements are simple and direct to show the directness and bluntness of his feelings.

4

“No sunrise, no city square, no lurking beautiful mountain/ but has her death in it.”

Repetition of “No” emphasises how inescapable her death is for him. Structure: Listing of places: these places are not usually associated with death suggests these places have now been tainted with death and grief affects everything / everywhere for the poet. Punctuation - full stop highlights finality of death.

5

What two examples of imagery from stanza one help to convey the strength of the speaker's feelings?

ANY TWO OF:
- "the silence of her dying sounds through the carousel of language"
-"it is a web on which laughter stitches itself"
-"when between them is that thick death"

6

“The silence of her dying sounds through the carousel of language”

Language= words of sympathy from loved ones. Paradox of ‘silence of her dying’ suggests that the grief he feels creates a silence/ numbness in him so intense that no words of comfort make a difference to him. Metaphor ‘ carousel of language- loved one’s words are compared to a ride at the fairgoround which is light-hearted and frivolous, so the words of comfort to him are affectionate and comforting but these are contrasted to the profound and serious ‘silence’ his grief causes.

7

“It’s a web on which laughter stitches itself.”

Metaphor – grief becomes ‘a web’ on which laughter (loved one’s attempts to comfort him) is doomed to be stuck and not penetrate. Suggests neither comforting words nor language can penetrate his grief.

8

“How can my hand/ clasp another’s when between them is that thick death, that intolerable distance?”

Stanza ends with a rhetorical question. Creates a deeply pessimistic tone. Rhetorical question emphasises his isolation – he does not expect and answer. Metaphor ‘thick death’- compares his grief to a fog and suggests it is too hard to see through or great through. Word choice of ‘intolerable’- connotations of something unbearable and hurtful, suggests he, in his grief, is suffering and isolated.

9

“She grieves for my grief.”

Structure: Word Order - the opening of this stanza involves a subversion of the usual order by asserting “She grieves for my grief”. This reinforces the bond the two shared while she was alive implying she couldn’t bear to see him sad and suffering.

10

Give an example of imagery from stanza two which suggests the impact her death has had on MacCaig's life and work.

“No crocus is carved more gently/ than the way her dying/ shapes my mind”

11

“No crocus is carved more gently/ than the way her dying/ shapes my mind”

Metaphor- Her dying has shaped his mind in the same way that a crocus is carved or shaped by nature. One of the effects of his grief is that it will forever continue to shape and impact on his creative work. Symbolism the symbol could be a symbol of hope and renewal, suggesting he is working through his grief.

12

How does MacCaig contradict the sense that he may be working through his grief in stana two?

“-But I hear, too,/ the other words,/ black words that make the sound/ of soundlessness.” The dash and use of the conjunction 'but'.

13

“-But I hear, too,/ the other words,/ black words that make the sound/ of soundlessness.”

Dash (Structure) - the use of the dash - to create a stark contrast and change of direction and clarifies that he is NOT working through his grief. Metaphorical image of him hearing words whispering to him the horror of the grave- contrasts the idea that he is coming to terms with it. Word choice, ‘black’ carries connotations of death and misery suggesting nothing makes any of this any better.

14

“that name the nowhere/ she is continuously going into.”

Metaphor: Dying and death are presented as a journey that has no destination and never ends. The cycle of suffering and dying is repeated "continuously (word choice)". This emphasises the deep despair and loss that he feels as for him. Death offers no hope or positivity.

15

How does the language of the final stanza conclude the poem effectively?

Concludes with the idea that his grief still has a profound impact- repetition reminds us of the first line.

16

“Ever since she died/ she can’t stop dying.”

Stanza three opens with a flat, matter-of-fact statement that reminds us of the opening line. Line suggests he is constantly tortured by this overwhelming experience of the death of his loved one.

17

Why is 'she makes me/ her elegy' effective in conveying the main ideas of the poem?

Simple statement and metaphor as he reaches his conclusion- the death has significantly changed him. An elegy is song or poem associated with death. Suggests his grief is so raw, so deep and all-consuming that he identifies entirely with it – he has become nothing else. He

18

“I am a walking masterpiece,/ a true fiction/ of the ugliness of death.”

Word choice:”.The term “masterpiece” is usually something beautiful, contrasts “ugliness” - he has been transformed by her death into something ugly and hopeless.

19

“I am her sad music.”

he short and simple (and therefore emphasised) final line sums up one of the central ideas in the poem. This pessimistic note again emphasises the all-encompassing nature of the grief and sorrow that consumes him and every aspect of his mind. He has only become a lament to her.