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English Literature- For my Grandmother Knitting

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Helen Li

on 28 February 2015

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Transcript of English Literature- For my Grandmother Knitting

For My Grandmother Knitting- Analysis
Form and Structure
Divided into 5 stanzas
All the stanzas are of unequal length, have a chronological order
Except for the last stanza, every stanza is constructed in one, long sentence
First and second stanzas have similar structure- the first half of both of the stanzas focuses on how the poet’s grandmother is now; whilst the second half of both stanzas talks about her grandmother in her youth
Third stanza talks about the things that the poet’s grandmother did as a young wife and mother
Fourth stanza comes back to the present- about the poet’s grandmother with her grandchildren
Final stanza- Lochhead’s grandmother is alone and waving goodbye to her children and grandchildren from her window
Throughout the poem- use the repetition of certain phrases and words for the readers to reflect on the way they treat and view their elderly loved ones
Written in the second person, but is in the grandmother’s point of view
Most important symbol in the poem- the grandmother’s hands, despite all the changes of her roles in her life, her hands have always been working
Stanza One
Opens with the phrase that is repeated throughout the poem- “There is no need they say”. This phrase appears in almost every stanza- reinforces one of the key themes of the poem- which is the poet’s grandmother’s increasing sense of uselessness
The use of the word ‘they’ creates a sense of separation and distance between the grandmother and her children, who believe that their grandmother’s knitting is unnecessary
The following lines “but the needles still move/their rhythms in the working of your hands”- central image of the poem about the grandmother’s hands
Stanza Two
Opens with the direct phrases “is old now” and “ grasp of things is not so good” when describing Lochhead’s grandmother
In the following lines- contrasts the image of her grandmother by once again describing the grandmother in her youth
The alliteration of the line- “you slit the still-ticking quick silver fish” helps to emphasise the capability of Lochhead grandmother’s hands when she was young
Stanza Three
Opens with a similar phrase as the first stanza, “But now they say there is no need", showing the distance that is growing between the poet’s grandmother and her children
The poem then leads back to the grandmother’s youth, by listing out some of the things the grandmother did as a young housewife
Lochhead conveys an image of comparison between the past and the present- between the hard work and hardships in past times and the high quality lifestyles and the relative comfort that we now take for granted
Stanza Four
Entirely in the point of view of the grandmother’s children
They say there is “no necessity” in their mother’s knitting, but fail to see that their mother knits not only for them but also because while knitting, she can still feel contributed and relevant in their lives
Stanza Five
Starts with the grandmother waving goodbye to her children at the window after their Sunday visit
Focuses on her grandmother’s hands, “Swollen- jointed. Red. Arthritic. Old”- these single adjective sentences forces the readers to face the cruelty of the aging process, and again contrasts the skillful hands of the young fisher girl and young wife from the previous stanzas
The last sentence of the poem starts with “But the needles still move/their rhythms in the working of your hands/easily”, the same as the beginning of the poem
Lochhead ends the poem with a sense of comfort by emphasizing how the constant movement of the hands of her grandmother didn’t change
Liz Lochhead
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