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'Land's End' by John Foulcher
Transcript of 'Land's End' by John Foulcher
Out on the sea, the surfers are spiders
in their black wetsuits, clutching their boards to them
like white moths.
The sea is tin
under the overcast light sky, the air
hangs like washing on a still day’s line.
Then a large wave roars from the water – they hunt it
down, kill it, doubling back;
they fight with each other
too, black grappling hooks locked over cold iron …
There’s a beach further down, they tell me,
you can’t go near: on Sundays
they bury a cat in the sand, mow its head off – this
frees them of picnic families.
It’s not so much – a little blood,
a clean beach …
The day shuts tight, the moon floats up, trailing light
over the water
like a jellyfish – stung
with this gold,
the sea glides silently out.
Opening monosyllabic phrase gives a sense of distance and separation between the reader and the subject
metaphor and sibilant alliteration denotes a sinister, threatening and stealthy mood attributed to the surfers
adjective establishes foreboding tone and, coupled with the previous metaphor, creates visual imagery of the scene
present participle implies that the board is their security; their threatening nature is a facade
simile reduces the surfers' power and threat to vulnerable beings coupled with the innocence conjured through the adjective.
However, the contrast between black and white serves to create a dramatic atmosphere and sense of tension.
Metaphor serves to create more visual imagery of the scene as flat and shining but also cold and hostile
pathetic fallacy of the overcast setting suggest something foreboding approaching.
premodifier perpetuates the tension.
domestic simile continues to build the foreboding tension and suggests there is no disturbance to this scene whatsoever
recurring third person pronouns continues the detachment of the reader from the surfers
adverb shifts the pace of the scene and creates a sense of immediacy
onomatopoeic verb suggests a threat for the surfers
metaphorical verb foreshadows later brutality and savagery as they tackle nature
monosyllabic, aggressive verb builds the aggression and savagery
continued use of active, aggressive verbs - now between the surfers suggest a hostile and territorial environment
metaphor shifts from natural spiders to the noun phrase which now makes the surfers seem artificial and discordant with the scene
rounded-vowel assonance slows the pace and consolidates the earlier tension and hostile mood
noun phrase builds on the earlier tin reference
but also the savagery of a sword?
Ellipsis shifts the descriptive scene to a different setting/moment
friendly, colloquial phrase suggests urban-myth but a view to be trusted
second person and high modality demands audience's attention and emphasises the importance of heeding this advice
colon serves to indicate an explanation as to why
series of caesuras emphasises the aggressive approach of the surfers
monosyllabic words create a matter-of-fact tone and domestic noun shocks the audience
continuation of monosyllabic words, the brutal verb and grotesque imagery clarifies the earlier implied sinister nature of the surfers
domestic noun phrase in stark contrast to the graphic and shocking nature of the previous line
verb suggests that the "picnic families" were an oppressive burden on the surfers - a sense of irony?
colloquial phrase reduces the significance of the surfers' brutal actions, serves to justify their rationale.
another ironic commentary?
pre-modifier continues to reduce the severity of their actions
pre-modifer/adjective continues justification of their actions - seeking cleanliness and that it is the families who destroy the natural environment
metaphor denoting a sense of closure and finality
return to descriptive style through vivid, natural, picturesque imagery
internal rhyme gives a sense of harmony and aesthetics to the scene
simile continues the natural, harmonic imagery but is disrupted by the caesura
blunt, hurtful verb adds to the disruption
typical connotations of the noun gold are subverted and the cause of the 'sting'
a return to the natural, harmonic imagery conjured through the soft and pleasant verb and adverb - suggests that nature is unaffected by the actions oh humans
The poem 'Land's End' subverts the stereotypical portrayal of surfers as being in harmony with nature. Instead, Foulcher compares the surfers to territorial hunters/predators who go to great means to protect "their territory".
Foulcher employs evocative imagery and frequently shifts the mood and atmosphere to reflect his attempt to challenge views of this culture. He shifts from surfing, to stillness, to aggression, to brutality, to justification and concludes with the beautiful shifting to the ordinary and serious.
The irregular structure reflects the disharmony and hostility of this world.
The structure commences in a descriptive style, shifts to a narrative format and returns to descriptive in the final stanza.
Foulcher plays with the reader through ironic commentary and justification of such actions.
Ultimately he presents the ordinary life as raw, brutal and savage but that life continues regardless.