Flashcards in Norman MacCaig ' Sounds Of The Day' Deck (15):
In the opening stanza, how does the poet feel about the sounds of the day?
- He finds a joy in nature
- He finds the silence enriching and positive
Technique: “When a clatter came,/ it was the horses crossing the ford.”
“When a clatter came,/ it was the horses crossing the ford.”
Onomatopoeia, ‘clatter’- conveys loud noises of horse’s hooves and convey the energy of the location. Emphasis is on the delicate sounds suggests a still and practically silent environment which the speaker finds joy in.
“It was/ a lapwing seeing us off the premises/ of its private marsh.”
‘Us’ suggest that the speaker is not alone or isolated at this point, contrasts later stanzas. Personification of the lapwing- Humorous image of the bird as a guard creates a light-heartened and pleasant tone. Creates the idea that, at this point, the speaker is happy with his loved one.
‘A snuffling puff/ ten yards from the boat was the tide blocking and/ unblocking a hole in a rock.’
Structure, subverted list: Sound comes first rather than the object throughout stanza one which suggests that the sounds are the most memorable. Here the silence of the surrounding is enriching for the speaker, he enjoys the silence around him which allows him to tune into the sounds.
What suggests a feeling of upset is to follow at the end of stanza one?
“When the black drums rolled”
The door scraping shut is important to the poem how?
It is the poem's turning point.
“When the door/ scraped shut’
Turning point of the poem. The door is a metaphor for the break-up and suggests a barrier caused by the break-up which cannot be crossed. Word choice of ‘scraped’ – connotations of pain and hurt which emphasizes the impact of the break-up and ‘shut’ suggests finality. All create a tone of hopelessness when it comes to reuniting for the speaker.
‘it was the end/ of all the sounds there are.”
Hyperbole: Highlights the significance and impact of the moment which the partner left. Emphasizes the effect on the speaker who begins to lose all sense of emotions. Silence becomes lonely.
“You left me/ beside the quietest fire in the world.’
Word choice/ direct address, ‘you’ – creates a blunt and accusatory tone. Blame is very clear. The enjambment highlights the isolation felt by the speaker. Hyperbole of ‘quiestest fire in the world’ emphasizes how much grief the parting has caused and that, because of this, he no longer takes pleasure in sounds and silence. He feels alone.
What does the poets attention turn entirely to in stanza four of the poem?
Feelings associated with the pain of loss/ separation.
‘I thought I was hurt in my pride only’
Repetition, ‘I’ highlights that he is only concerned with himself at this point. Word choice, ‘only’, indicates his initial thoughts that he would only feel the loss on a superficial level at the time.
‘forgetting that/ when you plunge your hand in freezing water’
‘Forgetting that’ suggests a change in direction and indicates that, as time has gone on, he has felt the loss on a much deeper level. Word choice- ‘plunge’ connotes something violentand jarring and suggests that he knows now that the impact would be felt on a greater level eventually. ‘Freezing’ has connotations of sharp pain and suggests the rawness of feeling he is now exposed to.
What does the poet say in the last line of the poem which make clear the effects of this experience?
“you feel a bangle of ice around your wrist/ before the whole hand goes numb.”