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Summer Farm by Norman MacCaig

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Astrid Guth

on 17 December 2013

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Transcript of Summer Farm by Norman MacCaig

Summer Farm
First and Second stanzas
Third and fourth stanzas
Norman MacCaig
Born in 1910 in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Attended Royal High School and studied classics at the university of Edinburgh.
Later he worked as a primary teacher.
During WW2 he was an objector and was consequently sent to prison.
In 1970 he became a lecturer of English studies at the university of Stirling, Scotland.
He spent most of his life in the Scottish northwest highlands, and his poems were often inspired by this.
AABB rhyme scheme - makes the poem have an upbeat and bouncy rhythm, also to make it more memorable.
Four lines per stanza which implies a feeling of organised thoughts and calmness, giving the feeling that the poet has nothing to worry about.
Many vowels slow down the pace of reading.
"Straws like tame lighting"
"Hang zigzag on hedges"
"Green as glass"
"The water in the horse-trough shines."
"Nine ducks go wobbling in two straight lines."
Language analysis in the second stanza
"A hen stares at nothing with one eye,"
"A swallow falls, and flickering through the barn, dives up again into the dizzy blue."
Third stanza language analysis
"I lie, not thinking, in the cool, soft grass, afraid of where a thought might take me."
"This grasshopper with the plated face unfolds his legs and finds himself in space."
Fourth stanza language analysis
" Self under self, a pile of selves i stand.
"Threaded on time, and with a metaphysic hand"
"Lift the farm like a lid and see farm within farm and in the centre, me."
Thank you for watching, do you have any questions about the poem?
Straws like tame lightnings lie about the grass
And hang zigzag on hedges. Green as glass
The water in the horse-trough shines.
Nine ducks go wobbling by in two straight lines.

A hen stares at nothing with one eye,
Then picks it up. Out of an empty sky
A swallow falls and, flickering through
The barn, dives up again into the dizzy blue.

I lie, not thinking, in the cool, soft grass,
Afraid of where a thought might take me - as
This grasshopper with plated face
Unfolds his legs and finds himself in space.

Self under self, a pile of selves I stand
Threaded on time, and with metaphysic hand
Lift the farm like a lid and see
Farm within farm, and in the centre, me

The poet lies within the depths of his mind, in a place where he feels at home. Like the rural area where his mother's family lived, which is reflected in this story.
Norman MacCaig discusses layers upon layers, like how the mind is made out of layers.
Everything described in the poem is part of his mind, with perhaps every animal representing a different aspect of his mind.
First stanza
language analysis
This is an oxymoron because lighting can't be tamed.
It is also a simile which gives imagery of how the straw looks.
Strange description foreshadows that the rest of the poem is to be surreal.
This is also a simile which again creates vivid imagery.
Unlike the other quote it is a true description because lightning is a zigzag shape.
This simile seems surreal at first, however after further thought the reader realises that it could be true as glass is often green.
This demonstrates the intelligent mind of the poet as he observes the things that he sees.
The fact that it shines shows that it is pure and clean.
It also brings back his childhood memories of bathing in the trough, showing the happy side of his mind.
Furthermore it creates an optimistic atmosphere.
This creates a positive feeling as the reader relates the verb "wobbling" to the ducks being adorable and cute. This verb also creates the image of happy children skipping.
The imagery "in two straight lines" could represent how the poet wants his mind to be; disciplined and stable.
The "wobbling" could show how his mind is indecisive between two different thoughts.
This gives a frightening and sinister image.
He understands that there is a crazy part of his mind ("then picks it up").
Contrasts with the atmosphere of the first stanza.
"Falls" and "flickering" is alliteration which adds to the flow.
The detailed description tells the reader how intelligent and observant the poet is as he remembers every movement of it.
The dizziness represents his open mindedness and imagination.
He introduces himself for the first time in the poem with the pronoun "I".
His posture reflects his calmness.
He is afraid of remembering his problems in reality or the things that stress him.
He is also afraid of thinking about space and time as it is infinite and huge.
As the grasshopper jumps and stays in space reflects the poet being impulsive and letting his thoughts take him anywhere (the fourth stanza).
His attention to detail is shown as he describes the "plated face".
In the repetition of the word "self" the poet expresses that we are all made of different identities.
When these identities are combined you obtain your true identity; "a pile of selves I stand".
The poet could also be writing about all his ancestors that owned the farm before him and how their spirits are still present.
This also represents time passing over the different generations of farmers that lived before him.
He is part of a long chain of people and could feel like he is trapped between past and future.
The "metaphysic hand" reminds the reader of the dream-like and surreal atmosphere.
This represents how the farm he owns has changed over the years and how it will continue to change.
The farm he lives in now is sandwiched between all the other farms and therefore by removing the bread you will find him inside the tomato.
It gives a Russian Doll effect showing how time passes.
Are there any quotes in the first stanza you think are significant?
What do you think the poem is about?
Are there any quotes in the second stanza you think are significant?
Full transcript