Sounds Of The Day - Annotation We are learning to: annotate the text and identify the use of poetic techniques. Thinking About Silence Think about the different types of silence that you can have. - What kind of silence do you have when you are happy? - What kind of silence do you have when you are upset or lonely? - What power does silence have? - Where else have we looked at silence and the impact that no noise can have on someone? First Impressions Create a mind map with a partner about your
first impressions of the poem. Whats it about? Whats the message/theme? Any relevant techniques? And anything else you would like to comment on. Remember, it is how YOU interpret it; there are no right or wrong answers in poetry analysis. Sounds Of The Day In Sounds of The Day MacCaig begins by describing the sounds that he hears in a still silent environment. It begins in a positive and descriptive manner. However the sound of a door closing in stanza two signifies the turning point in the poem and MacCaig
goes on to explore the despair of loss. (again!) Structure This poem is written in free verse made up of four irregular stanzas. The division between each of the stanzas helps to focus the reader on the specific idea that is contained within each one and the poem is organised in a fairly straightforward chronological order. The poem begins by describing sounds in stanzas one and two and moves onto describing feelings in stanza three and four. The memories evoked by the sounds of the day allow MacCaig to explore this difficult and emotional experience Stanzas Stanza One: the speaker describes natural sounds: horses, a bird, waves and a waterfall. On its own, this stanza paints a pleasant picture and indicates the speakers delight in nature Stanza Two: The shut door, described in the second stanza, is the turning point of the poem. Here the ideas move from a delight found in a variety of natural sounds
to a reflection upon one specific experience Stanza Three: The personal nature of the poem is apparent in the third stanza as the speaker addresses the person who has left. We get the impression of a figure, suddenly alone, faced with the consequences of a separation. Stanza Four: Honest assessment of how deeply he has been affected by the experience. The relationship has meant a lot to the speaker and the separation, though painful enough during the moment itself, has left a lasting impression Stanza One Poem begins by listing the sounds of the day When a clatter came, it was horses crossing the ford. When the air creaked, it was a lapwing seeing us off the premises of its private marsh. A snuffling puff ten yards from the boat was the tide blocking and unblocking a hole in a rock.
What is most significant is the acuteness and descriptiveness of these distinct sounds in emphasising how alert the speaker is to them. When the black drums rolled, it was water falling sixty feet into itself. He can hear it because of the silence that surrounds him it is an enriching and still environment Stanza One When a clatter came, it was horses crossing the ford. When the air creaked, it was a lapwing seeing us off the premises
of its private marsh. A snuffling puff ten yards from the boat was the tide blocking and unblocking a hole in a rock. When the black drums rolled, it was water falling sixty feet into itself. Inverted list it is the sound that comes first. In this instance it is the sound that is most important (as the title suggests) Stanza One When a clatter came, it was horses crossing the ford. When the air creaked, it was a lapwing seeing us off the premises
MacCaig uses onomatopoeia and alliteration to imitate these specific sounds of its private marsh. A snuffling puff ten yards from the boat was the tide blocking and unblocking a hole in a rock. When the black drums rolled, it was water falling sixty feet into itself. There is a strong sense of the power of nature. Theme of importance of Natural World established. When a clatter came, it was horses crossing the ford.
Sound is central to the way in which this poem works. Sound indicates life; painful , disturbing and even doom-laden but life none-the-less. The poem opens with the onomatopoeic clatter combined with the vowel patterning of a s echoing the rattle of the horses hooves striking on the stones of the ford . The first line is sharp and disturbing almost sudden which is contrasted with the more mellow repeated o sounds in the second line. It is rather like getting a fright and then realising that it is something non threatening. The sibilance of the s sounds in the second line conjure up the hiss of the water as the horses cross the ford again less disturbing. Stanza One When a clatter came, it was horses crossing the ford. When the air creaked, it was a lapwing seeing us off the premises of its private marsh. A snuffling puff
Humorous image personification Show how territorial the lapwing is ten yards from the boat was the tide blocking and unblocking a hole in a rock. When the black drums rolled, it was water falling sixty feet into itself. Air creaked very detailed description of the sound emphasises how still and quiet the poet must have been When the air creaked, it was
a lapwing seeing us off the premises of its private marsh. The third line brings us more sound, this time a lapwing or a Pee wit . The onomatopoeic creaked giving the familiar cry of the lapwing a creepy gothic overtone. Not described by MacCaig as a pleasant thing and he introduces the further unpleasant idea of being unwanted seeing us off the premises. Note the use of the word us MacCaig is not giving the reader a sense that he is alone and isolated at this point in the poem. Like the first image the sounds are creating a sense of tension and foreboding. This is another sound from nature but it is not kind or reassuring. A snuffling puff ten yards from the boat was the tide blocking and unblocking a hole in a rock. The third image of the poem gives us more onomatopoeia; snuffling puff creates the sound of the sea forcing its way through a cavity in the rocks at the shore filling and
emptying as the waves splash into it. The fricative repetition of the f sounds gives us the sound as the spume splashes into the rock and like the lapwing in the previous line MacCaig follows it with an unpleasant onomatopoeic sound with the rather jarring blocking and unblocking. It is made more unpleasant by the shortening of the 3 rd line at and creating a dramatic pause rather like the rhythm of the sea itself. Note the vowel pattern created by the repetition of the o sounds creating a hollow sound rather like the sea sloshing around under the rocks. Stanza One When a clatter came, it was horses crossing the ford. Stanza finishes with the first hint that the poem may have a darker meaning that the first stanza suggets When the air creaked, it was
a lapwing seeing us off the premises of its private marsh. A snuffling puff ten yards from the boat was the tide blocking and CK - consonance/harsh sounding words unblocking a hole in a rock. When the black drums rolled, it was water falling sixty feet into itself. Black drums rolled hints at darker undertones (ominous and brooding) Foreshadowing the mood and tone to come When the black drums rolled, it was water
falling sixty feet into itself. The onomatopoeia continues in the final image of the first stanza black drums rolled gives us the sound of the drums but not in a rhythmic way; more like a drum roll before an acrobat leaps into the air or a darker image of the roll of drums before an execution. Again MacCaig uses the foreshortened second line to create a sense of drama and the enjambment from water to falling on the last line helps create the sound of a thundering waterfall. Again MacCaig brings the reader a sound from nature and again it has a foreboding overtone ; something bad is going to happen. The idea of the water fall falling into itself is also interesting when we think about the whole poem; MacCaigs grief causes the poet to collapse in on himself in something of a silent echo of this dramatic image from the first stanza. Stanza Two
When the door scraped shut, it was the end of all the sounds there are. The silence that allowed him to hear so keenly the sounds of the natural world has returned, yet this silence is oppressive and suffocates the speakers aural sense. Turning Point in the Poem Stanza Two When the door scraped shut, it was the end Door is a metaphor for the end of relationship and suggests a barrier that cannot be crossed.
of all the sounds there are. Scraped Same harsh constonent sound as at the end of stanza one Scraped has connotations of pain and hurt Hyperbole of final statement underlines the significance of the moment. No pleasure in sitting listening to sounds Clear sense of the despair and pain that follows a parting Idea that nothing will be the same again
(links to Memorial) When the door scraped shut, it was the end of all the sounds there are. The second stanza gives us the key image of the poem. It is the last sound and it seems to be the moment the tone of foreboding and the drum roll in the first stanza are building up to. We dont know whether this is a death or a separation; it has been suggested this is about the death of his sister but the poem stands for whatever you get from it in the end. I see a death because that is what it means to me. The ugly sound of scraped and the sudden finality of the word shut bring this noisy poem to a poetic silence. The comma splitting the second line of the image combined with the poets use of enjambment leading to the final sounding there are bring the short but powerful second stanza to a finish. There is only one image and one sentence in this stanza and that adds to its
power and sense of finality. Though we have to read on into the third stanza to gain some insight into what has brought about this sudden silence. Stanza Three You left me beside the quietest fire in the world. Move away from sounds to feelings and emotions This single sentence stanza explains the reason for this shift in mood. The speaker implies the impact of the parting is that he is no longer to hear and take pleasure in sounds the huge impact of the loss.
Stanza Three You left me beside the quietest fire in the world. Use of personal pronouns. Accusing tone (similar technique used in Memorial) Unambiguous statement Word choice again emphasising the lack of sound. Contrast to stanza one. Suddenness of the silence Paradox being alone should make you hear more not
less yet this is not the case Use of hyperbole communicate the extreme pain he is feeling You left me beside the quietest fire in the world. The third stanza is dramatically silent. And introduces the notion of the us from the first stanza being no more. The visual image of a silent fire is full of meaning. A fire might be seen as something full of life, warmth, light ; everything that could symbolise life. By silencing the fire in the image we are given the idea a life but with no warmth, light or life about it. It is symbolic of his life having lost the You of the first line .
The hyperbole of the quietest fire in the world also helps to create a sense of the enormity of this loss In relation to the small and silent figure of the poet suggested by me at the end of the first line of the stanza. The enjambment enhances this feeling as it throws the stress onto the word me at the end of the first line and we get a real sense of the isolation and abandonment felt by the poet. Stanza Four I thought I was hurt in my pride only, forgetting that, when you plunge your hand in freezing water, you feel a bangle of ice round your wrist before the whole hand goes numb. Complexity of emotions
that comes when there is a parting. The focus of the poem moves from sound to touch The final verse is utterly bleak Stanza Four Initial feeling is on the surface he thinks it is his feelings are not badly hurt at first I thought I was hurt in my pride only, forgetting that,
when you plunge your hand in freezing water, you feel a bangle of ice round your wrist before the whole hand goes numb. He conveys the emotional pain that still lies, like the hand, beneath the surface even if he is numb to it at the moment. Word Choice plunge emphasises the suddeness of the parting Metaphor raw initial
grief of someone leaving Paradox hand is how you normally feel but by plunging it in ice he cannot feel I thought I was hurt in my pride only, forgetting that, when you plunge your hand in freezing water, you feel a bangle of ice round your wrist before the whole hand goes numb. The poem ends with this final image. The imagery is now silent and MacCaig gives us an image which is subtle and revealing. The mention of pride is odd at first ; it
suggests anger and feelings of resentment and hurt almost as if he takes the loss as a personal affront but then he reveals himself through the image of the hand in freezing water. Just as the pain round his wrist is fierce and suddenly sore, so the poet feels the pain and anger at his loss. What the image reveals is his realisation that just as his world has gone silent his feelings will change from pain and hurt to a death-like numbness. The silence of the shut door is the numbness of his feelings. It is as if his world is about to end. Like the way in which the sounds in the first stanza, which are slightly disturbing, are infinitely preferable to the silence, so the pain he feels now in the same way is only a stage before his whole life descends into a numb silence. Themes The closing door is an important image in the poem and introduces the theme of loss and parting. For the speaker, the separation is significant and painful. He feels his life has been changed and his senses have been altered forever.
MacCaig explores how parting affects us in a significant way. He captures both the initial, difficult pain of a break-up but also the lasting effect such experiences can have on us. Love is usually depicted in poetry positively, yet this love has resulted only in pain and heartbreak, leaving the reader to consider whether this relationship has been worth the pain of parting.
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