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Summer Farm

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by

Alex Reilly

on 30 September 2014

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Transcript of Summer Farm

General
The poem speaks of MacCaig as he lies deep in his own thoughts, represented by a farm
MacCaig, by the end of the poem, comes to the realise not only his insignificance in the farm and the greater world but also his current self's insignificance in his life
Stanza 1
He begins with an oxymoron writing, 'Straws like tame lightnings.' This can also be seen as an example of metonymy as the 'straws' could be symbols of the farm or the greater world, and can therefore capture the fact that the world can be both aggressive(shown by the lightning) and peaceful(tame).
Later he describes the water in the horse-trough saying that it is 'green as glass,' which is an example of simile. This can also be in seen as metonymy given that his looking into the horse trough can be a symbol of his own metaphysical thinking. Furthermore this suggests to us that he is unable to see deep into himself but is instead only able to scratch the surface of his true self.
He ends the stanze by describing, 'nine ducks...wobbling by in two straight lines. This is the first of many metaphors in which MacCaig links the natural and human worlds. In this the ducks are used to show the lack of order present in the human world but also at the same time the conformity that accompanies this lack of order
Stanza 2
In this stanza MacCaig continues on with his metaphors linking the natural and the human worlds
Stanza 4
In this stanza MacCaig finally makes the decision to venture deeper into his thoughts only to realise his insignificance. MacCaig links his own metaphysical thinking to the lifting of a lid and states that he sees, 'farm within farm, and in the centre me.' MacCaig despite in some ways being the 'centre' of the farm is also at the same time insignificant within its greater ecosystem. Furthermore he also writes, 'Self under self, a pile of selves I stand.' MacCaig has realised that his insignificance is not only present in relation to the farm but also that he, as he is now, is completely insignificant in the grand scheme of his life
Comparison

Describe how Norman MacCaig portays his internal conflicts in his poem 'Summer Farm'
Poets often write about their own internal thoughts. Describe how poets have achieved this in two poems you have studied this year
Explain how Norman MacCaig makes his poem 'Summer Farm' memorable for the reader
Norman MacCaig
Summer Farm
He first describes a hen which, 'stares at nothing with one eye'. This can be seen to show the fact that people often fear things which are not present and also as the hen stares with 'only one eye' it could also symbolise the fact that people are never really able to see something in its entirety.
Next he talks of a swallow which, 'falls, and flickering through the barn, dives up again into the dizzy blue.' This can be seen as a symbol of the calmness and joy present in the world and also s the bird is diving upwards can also suggest the presence of endless oppurtunities.
Stanza 3
Within this stanza MacCaig describes a 'grass hopper with plated face,' which, 'unfolds his legs and finds himself in space.' The grasshopper in this can be seen to symbolise MacCaig and his own inner conflicts involving whether or not he should venture further into his thoughts. This conflict stems from the fact that he is, 'afraid of where a thought might take me(MacCaig)'
Summer Farm can be compared to other poems from the IGCSE syllabus, for example 'The Cockroach' by Kevin Halligan. In both poems the poets make realisations involving their insignificance in the world. In 'Summer Farm' the poet discovers this through a farm and all of the life upon it while in 'The Cockroach' the poet realises his insignificance when he compares his life to the movements of a Cockroach which is within his household.
Questions
Useful Links
http://matthewspoetryanalysis.blogspot.co.nz/2013/05/summer-farm-norman-maccaig.html

http://igcseblog.wordpress.com/2014/05/03/summer-farm-by-norman-maccaig/


Contrast
'Summer Farm by Norman MacCaig can be contrasted against 'The Planners' by Boey Kim Cheng. 'Summer Farm' contains predominantly images of nature such as the ducks and swallows. While on the other hand 'The Planners' deals with a city and this the unnatural. Furthermore 'Summer Farm' has a very ordered structure to portray his organised thinking while 'The Planners' has a very random and creative structure.
Full transcript