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Transcript of The Cockroach
Skirting a ball of dust that road the floor.
At first he seemed quite satisfied to trace
A path between the wainscot and the door,
But soon he turned to jog in crooked rings,
Circling the rusty table leg and back,
And flipping right over to scratch his wings-
As if the victim of a mild attack
Of restlessness that worsened over time.
After a while, he climbed an open shelf
And stopped. He looked uncertain where to go.
Was this due payment for some vicious crime
A former life had led to? I don’t know
Except I thought I recognized myself. When you first look at the poem it seems to be about a cockroach, however with a deeper analysis you would find that the cockroach's description is used as a extended metaphor of the poet, Kevin Halligan, or of humans in general. The poet describes the cockroach as 'giant' (Line 1) which can mean that it is giant as an insect or it could be giant to the point that it is of human size. The whole poem is based on the movements of the cockroach; how it starts to pace, skirting a ball of dust, tracing, and then it comes to the climax 'But' (Line 5). From this point the cockroach begins to lose his sense of direction and the poet describes it as a victim to a mild attack (Line 8) and the cockroach still goes on though, from Lines 3-11 the cockroach seems to present human nature - the cockroach seems to start off his journey content and then he stumbles upon a problem and gets bored and restless and seems to want something new.. The cockroach then finds a new adventure on an open shelf (Line 10) but again seems uncertain. This is where the poet comes to observe the cockroach in more detail and connects it to his own life by realizing it is more like him than he thinks. Overall the poem represents a human connecting with another organism which is but a mere insect. What is this poem about? This poem is very deep when you read through it and it can express many ideas.
Idea 1: The poet is trying to express that humans hurry through their lives and the cockroach's movements represent how we are content and then we come across a problem and then we want something new to satisfy us.
Idea 2: The poet is trying to make us think about our true goal and purpose in life. Life goes so fast and we are constantly thinking of our future and sometimes we realize we don't know what we want yet.
Idea 3: The poet uses the movements of the cockroach as a main idea, the cockroach starts to: pace, skirt, trace, then it turns to jog, circle, flip, climb, stop, and finally looked uncertain where to go. In the end, the poet observing these movements begins to see himself in the cockroach and relate the movements to certain parts in his life.
What ideas and attitudes are explored in the poem? Kevin Halligan was born in 1964. He is from Toronto, Canada where he grew up and then he lived abroad in England and Cambodia, before returning back to Canada. His collections which included Blossom Street (1999), The Belfast of the North (2005) and Utopia (2009) are all known to represent his travels. His early work shows the influence of the English poet Peter Reading. The Belfast of the North (2005) is based on Kevin's childhood whereas Utopia (2009) is set in a Cambodia still in the midst of settling from years of war, oppression and unrest. The Cockroach is seen to be a mixture of both. The Poet: Kevin Halligan I find it striking and interesting how a man (Kevin Halligan) can use his travels and his life to create a poem where he relates his life to a cockroach's life. It is interesting how he does this through observing the cockroach's movements and connecting certain parts of his life with its life. The amazing part is that the movements observed represent different stages of the poet's life and by reading through this poem you will be able to identify these stages. Form: Sonnet
Based on: A Personal Reflection --> Class Activity:
Who gets bored with their daily routine sometimes? (i.e.- school, etc.)
Who sometimes reflects on their lives and wish they could do something new and different?
This is how the poet feels by how he expresses the movements of the cockroach and how he relates himself to it. --> Class Activity:
Who knows whether they want to do do IB or A-Levels?
Who knows which university they want to go to?
Who knows what occupation they want? What techniques does the poet use? In this poem there is use of:
Rhyme Scheme: ABAB CDCD EFGEGF -This gives the words more emphasis and creates a flow to the sonnet.
Extended Metaphor: The cockroach -The Cockroach is based on the extended metaphor of this mere insect representing a human being and its adventure through life.
Personification: Giving the cockroach human like features and movements -This creates an effect that makes the poet connect his life with the cockroach.
Connotations: The diction "crooked" and "rusty" reveal connotations of negative past experiences involving crime that the poet now regrets.
Imagery: "Circling..back" shows the persona's own return to the complete beginning, expressing his feelings of a wasteful and inadequate life.
Structure: Reflects the allegory of human nature and life The poet shows us that in order to achieve our goals in life we must overcome many obstacles, including ourselves. Main Themes:
Human Nature - Expressed through the cockroach's movements and how the poet relates himself to the cockroach.
Life - Expressed throughout the poem from the cockroach's life and the peots life , their hidden meaning and how they intertwine.