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Summer Farm by Norman MacCaig

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Hugo Wagner-Hiliau

on 7 October 2013

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Transcript of Summer Farm by Norman MacCaig

Summer Farm
by Norman MacCaig

The Poem - A Summary
The poem is divided into four quatrains and has the regular rhyme scheme of AABB CCDD EEFF GGHH.

The poem is from the point of view of the poet's wandering mind. It starts off describing the area around him that is the farm. Towards the end of the poem, however, it becomes introspective as the poet deals with metaphysics and contemplates his place in the world.
Despite listing many observations, the poem's descriptions all contain hidden meanings:
"Straws like tame lightnings" - the simile and oxymoron show the potential depth of the mind
"Nine ducks go wobbling by in two straight lines" - this shows the troubles faced when trying to fit into society
"A hen stares at nothing with one eye,/ Then picks it up" - the paradox here tells us that our everyday troubles may not be as important as they seem
"This grasshopper with plated face/ Unfolds his legs and finds himself in space" - the grasshopper represents the poet and his mind, and how the poet quickly tries to move on from something he was previously thinking about
One definition of metaphysics is "a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being". MacCaig toys with this idea of being in the final stanza of the poem.

The poet sees himself as a "self under self, a pile of selves". Here he expresses that humans exist as a collection of different identities, past and present, which make up the whole.

Also, MacCaig sees himself at the centre of a "farm within farm". With this he shows how we are all simply a small part of a greater scale: the greater "farm" which is the world.
The poem involves a lot of personal reflection, especially at its end. In this way, it can be linked two the poems 'The Cockroach' and 'The Woodspurge', both of which deal with identity and a more metaphysical view on the world.

Also, in terms of its natural themes, the poem can be compared to 'Pied Beauty' well as both of the two poems concern nature and its purity around us.
Questions and Websites
1) Explore the theme of identity in Norman MacCaig's poem 'Summer Farm'.

2) Compare the natural environment in the poems 'Summer Farm' by Norman MacCaig and 'The Cockroach' by Kevin Halligan.

3) Identify the imagery and language features used by Norman MacCaig in his poem 'Summer Farm'.

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