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The story is a meditation on old age, loneliness and the contemplation of death. It is set in winter, the poet describes an elderly man braving the cold to greet passing travelers.
Hello- Sheenagh Pugh
"However often the answer came, it wouldn't be enough."
-we are told the answer (responses to the greetings he shouts to passers by) comes rarely- underlines how old man's situation= tragic
the old man's open resistance of the winter cold to stay outdoors and in the world is reiterated.
She uses simile:
"as if he were delaying the need to embark"
liken the house he refuses to enter to an ocean, and to enter would be to "embark."
Pugh compares the house with an ocean- in this context house=death.
scrap of waste garden
noise and the bustle
= one sided conversations the man has with people who pass by his home--
by refusing to retreat indoors the man is refusing death, though Pugh hints that his efforts to remain in and of the world are somewhat futile- given the disinterest shown by those walking past= represent life.
"slip out of sight and sound"
- sibilance- creates unsettling atmosphere
“gold coins of celandine gleam”
yellow spring flowers.Yellow: can represent illness or age.
-gold coins= metaphor.
- Comparison to spring flowers in “rank grass”.
of passers-by: they didn’t notice him when he was there but now he is not they are anxious.-they are
” definition- (not looking directly at something)- not looking directly at someone is a sign of guilt.
-Nature of people who the reader had empathy for feel guilty- should reader feel guilt?
”- house represents death. Man is in the house- euphemism for the death of the man.
throughout- creates fluency and makes it story-like.
The title and ending
"- a polite greeting of the man who is starting to start a conversation. It is rhetorical because no-one listens
Themes & context
Comparison to Duffy
identifies target groups i.e the elderly, women & different races. ex: in 'Comprehensive'
uses simplistic language- allows a wider range of people to read their poems. ex: All
uses enjambent and caesura.
emotive ending: Both Pugh and Duffy leave the reader feeling something. Not a happy ending.ex: in 'Education for Leisure'
"no weather kept him in"
- desire to remain active despite inclement conditions.
his arthritic body on a "old chair" evokes bleak tone of old man & surroundings.
"scrap of waste garden"
- The garden is a "waste", this is juxtaposed in stanza 2 when it is compared to a busy quay- not scrap to the old man.
Pugh describes the man assaulting passers by
"gauntlet of "hello""
-trying desperately to attract their attention, suggesting a longing for human contact.
"they quickened their pace; kept their distance"
- creates feelings both of sadness and also shared guilt in the reader- it's easy to empathise with both the passers by who simply want to go about their day, and the man himself who is thwarted EMOTIVE LANGUAGE
Ending: the title (opening) is "hello" and the last word is "
"- conventional conversation.
nobody said goodbye
" explicit and blunt.
Effect to the reader: makes them reader have sympathy for the old man.
Context: Pugh is devoted to story telling and uses simple language