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English Poetry- Derek Mahon

Leaving cert English
by

Katie Barry

on 20 October 2012

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Transcript of English Poetry- Derek Mahon

Antartica, After the Titanic, Ecclesiastes & Rathlin Derek Mahon Ecclesiastes Rathlin Historical event/ Lawrence Oates
1) Opens with Oate's final words "I am just going outside and may be some time."
Mahon believes what he did was "sublime" but the whole situation was ridiculous.
"pretending not to know" denying the group of responsibility
The team is left "reading" (normality).
The last line of stanza 2 repeats last words emphasising it.
2) Oates disappears into the distance.. "frostbite is replaced by vertigo". Distance between himself and the camp.
Suicide was considered a crime.. Mahon sarcastically dismisses this becasue it wasn't self sacrafice "I am just..."
3) The fianl stanza.. calls life an "earthly pantomime" the idea often mentioned by SHakespeare (life is a play and the world a stage) except Pantomime is ridiculous.
Final 2 lines.. Repetition "I am..." "sublime" "ridiculous"
4) Alliteration- "goading & gohst"- line 5 "glimmer & glow"- line 14 & emphasis on 2 lines. After the Titanic Historical Event/ Bruce Ismay
1). Great insight into the life of Ismay.
Ismay shunned by the world for being a coward.
2). I was drawn into the poem in the first few lines.. "They said I got away in a boat" implying that he may as well have drowned- he esacped the sinking ship but in a way he never escaped the tragedy.
"I sank as far that night as any hero".. "Hero" used as a mockery of the language of the press and officials who praised the drowned for drowning and condemned the survivors for surviving.
3). One aspect of the poem I enjoyed was Mahon's portrayal of self pitty and guilt on Ismay's part..
self pity: "costly life" an ironical and foolish protest/ insensitivity. "My poor soul" "include me in your lamentations".
Guilt: "I drown again, with all those dim lost faces I never understood" "...screams out in the starlight, heart breaks loose and rolls down like a stone"
I enjoyed this poem because.. portrayal of many different feelings and Mahon gives the reader a chance to decide what they thought of what Ismay did for themselves non-bias.
Use of alliteration "pandemoniam of prams, Pianos..." "Late light" Historical/ Bible reference/ Presbyterian
1). At the start of this poem Mahon mentions "God, you could grow to love it" but obviously his opinion of his once faith is not "love" of it.
He criticises the bitter, joyless and repressive Protestant/Presbytherian culture he was once part of.
He refers to these people as "God-chosen purist little puritan.."- Follow the rules to an extent.
2). Throughout this poem, Mahon describes to us how joyless these people live their lives in his opinion "dank churches" "tide-up swings" "shelter your cold heart from the heat of the world".
Protestants claim ownership of the land "This is our country". Mahon answers this with "Close one eye and be king" A line I found greatly interesting! (In the land of the blind the one eyed man is king)
Mahon is very cynical in his writing in this poem.
He shows how these people embrace things that are unpleasant "love the January rains".
3). At the end of this poem Mahon asks are these people credulous, are they a gullible people?
In the second last line he shows pitty for the people "God help you" Maybe he feels sorry for them because he has escaped this life but they have not. Historical/ Rathlin Island/ N.Ireland
1).This poem talks about the historical event that occured on Rathlin Island in 1575.
Mahon writes about how the Island felt when he visited.
"An unnatural silence" suggests this event should not have happened.
The island is silent/ dead and uninhabited. The only noise that breaks the "conversation of crickets" is the shearwater of the boat.
He feels like they are the first visiters there.
2). In the second stanza, Mahon mentions "Bombs doze in the housing estates" - The ongoing voilence in N.Ireland
He also mentions "Custodians of a lone light..." From this I can see a lighthouse which now shows light and guidance to keep people safe which is very different to what happened on the island back in 1575.
In the third stanza, Mahon talks about what happened on that day "The unspeakable voilence", As Somhairle Bui stood powerless as he heard the screams from the women and children who he thought were safe.
Again he mentions the sound of the "shearwater" disturbing the peace.
The very last two lines.. "Unsure... Whether the future lies before us or behind". voilence still ongoing in N.Ireland will it continue? Antartica
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