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"David" by Earle Birney
Transcript of "David" by Earle Birney
by Earle Birney
Claudius, Devan, Maria, Mike, Sabrina, and Sebastian.
• Chosen for a reason
• Short and weak referred to as Bobbies
• Chose weak name in contrast to strong name
• Ironic name choice
Fetid (adjective)-smelling extremely unpleasant. Example: The fetid water of the marsh.
Coltish (adjective) – Playful, energetic. Example: off camera the actor is high-spiritedly coltish, but turns serious once the camera starts rolling
Festooned (verb) –A place with garlands, ribbons, or other decorations. Example: the room festooned with balloons and streamers.
Scree (noun) – A steep mass of detritus on the side of a mountain. Example: We keep one eye on a group crossing a scree slope, the other eye on the cliffs at its top.
Shale (noun) – Soft, finely stratified sedimentary rock that formed from consolidated mud or clay and can be split easily into fragile slabs. Example: Some shale’s have special properties that make them important resources.
Saxifrage (noun) –Any plant of the genus Saxifraga, grows wild in the clefts of rocks.
Examples of Personification:
a. Wail of mosquitoes
b. sunalive weekends
c. snoring under the fetid
a. hurrying slant
b. pines thrust
c. water that knifed down
a. Slicing pipe
V. a. smudged rocks
VII. a. the cold breath of the glacier
b. the skyline pulsed with the surging bloom
c. gurgling world of crystal
VIII. a. my shame stung
b. the thirsting lichens
c. mountains could win
d. His eyes brightening with fever upbraided me
e. Above us climbed the last joint of the Finger
IX. a. green-throated crevasses
“…wail of mosquitoes…”
“…sudden whirring of water that knifed down a fern-hidden Cliff…”
“…An endless hour in the sun…”
“… a sunlit spire on Sawback…”
“…beetle-seal in the shale of ghostly trilobites’ letters…”
“The air howled…”
“The woods were alive with the vaulting of mule-deer and drenched with clouds all the morning…”
“The ice in the morning thaw was a gurgling world of crystal and cold blue chasms…”
“Then I turned to look north at the glistening wedge of giant Assiniboine…”
“The way of mountains could win to the chimneys top.”
“A hawk was buoying blackly its wings over the wrinkled ice”
“The purr of a waterfall rose and sank with the wind”
“… I slid to the milky wrangling falls at the glaciers snout, through the rocks piled huge…”
“The peak was upthrust like a fist in a frozen ocean of rock that swirled into valleys the moon could be rolled in” Pg 1 II
“an overhang crooked like a talon” Pg 2 III
“while a marten moving like quicksilver scouted us.” Pg VI
"and David still as a broken doll." Pg VIII
Type of Poem
Man vs. Man - David vs. Bob
Man vs. Himself - Bob vs. Bob, David vs. David
Man vs. Nature - David vs. Nature, Bob vs. Nature
Values of life and death
Conflict between man and nature - look as one when scaling, Finger calls them and defeats them when David falls
Conflict between loyalty and guilt in a man - Bob pushing David over the cliff
Major theme is maturity
Mountain - stairway to heaven
Robin with broken wing - mercy killing, survival of the fittest
Goat's bones - danger that is always present in our lives
David - a role model, loss of youth
Finger - extends an invitation to come, defeats them when David falls.
through the musky woods.” Pg 3 VII
“David spotted bighorns across the moraine and sent them leaping with
..” Pg 3 VII
“the ice in the morning thaw was a
world of crystals” Pg 3 VII
” Pg 4 VII
of a waterfall” Pg 5 VII
a slug…” Pg 6 IX
The poem is impressionistic, decorative, and picturesque.
“…We climbed, to get from the ruck of the camp, the surly poker, the wrangling,
the snoring under the fetid tents…”
“…To a curling lake…”
“… Grilled our bacon…”
“…Skree on the west descended…”
“…We crawled astride the peak to feast on the marching ranges flagged…”
“That day we chanced on the skull and the splayed white ribs of a mountain goat underneath a cliff, caught on a rock… And that was the first I knew that a goat could slip.”
“…lobbed the ice axe over the rocky lip,slipped from his holds and hung by the quivering pick,
twisted his long legs up into space and kicked to the crest… he reached with his freckled wrist and drew me up after”
“…we caught five trout and fried them over a balsam fire.”
“We rose and trod past the feathery Larch, while the stars went out…”
“David spotted Bighorns across the moraine and sent them leaping with yodels the ramparts…”
“…Unroping we formed a cairn on the rotting tip.”
“But the strain crumbled his foothold.”
“…grating edge-nails and fingers, the slither of stones…the nightmare thud”
“Somehow I worked down the fifty impossible feet to the ledge, calling and getting no answer but echoes.”
“He lay still…”
“… I moistened his lips from our water flask and tearing my shirt into strips I swabbed the shredded hands.”
“I hunched to my knees to leave…”
“…The sweat ran from his forehead…”
“…on my ripped boots…”
“In blackness I searched for the trail by the creek and found it.”
“I hurled myself down the path. In the woods behind some animal yelped. Then I saw the glimmer of tents and babbled my story.”
Has no rhyme scheme
It tells a story from Bob's perspective,
• Everything but random
• David is described as the king of Israel
• Took many risks
• Similar character traits
• Experienced climber
• Knows his limits
• Helpful and forgiving
• Satisfaction from the thrill of danger
• Yearning for justice and desire for taking risks resemble the King killing the mighty Goliath
• David, like the King chose a peaceful death in dignity, over a life in pain and regret
The Structure of this narrative is formed to develop a type
of tension for the reader. This helps to captivate the reader/readers to keep them engaged in the story. Earle Birney uses this technique very well. From the beginning of the narrative, the way he describes the situations and what these two see keeps the reader guessing constantly.
“At the base of the Finger we once tried and failed.”
This gives the reader a feeling of anticipation while waiting to see what happens.
“That day returning we found a robin gyrating in grass, wing-broken. I caught it to tame but David took and killed it, and said, “Could you teach it to fly?”
This example of foreshadowing because it expresses the birds inability to fly which was the same as David’s inability to get up after the fall that he endure upon their hike.
“That day we chanced on the skull in the splayed white ribs of a mountain goat underneath a cliff, caught on a rock. Around were the silken feathers of hawks. And that was the first I knew that a goat could slip.”
This example of foreshadowing helps to amplify the intense situation that the two climbers were in. If the goat that was made for the mountain could, then a human, not made for the mountain could definitely fall.
Gentian (noun) - Any of the numerous plants of the genus Gentiana, characteristically has showy, variously coloured flowers.
Arête (noun)- A sharp mountain ridge. Example: Northeast-looking photograph showing a well-formed sharp-peaked hornand connected arête ridge.
Splayed (verb) –to spread out, expand, or extend. Example: What struck me were its large splayed hoofs and its long weird face.
Inglismaldie (noun) -Mount Inglismaldie is the second highest peak in Fairholme Range in Banff National Park.
Balked (verb) –to stop and refuse to proceed or to do something specific. Example: And its customers balked at paying for spared the torment of supermarket shopping.
Moraine (noun) –a ridge, mound, or irregular mass of unstratified glacial drift, chiefly boulders, gravel, sand, and clay. Example: It’s no secret that the biotech boom has left a moraine of false promise and failed products in its wake.
Facet (noun) –one of the small, polished plane surfaces of a cut gem. Example: Each facet of the problem requires careful attention.
Firs (noun) –any coniferous tree belonging to the genus Abies, characterized by its pyramidal style of growth, flat needles and erect cones.
Astride (adjective) –with a leg on either side. Example: His head and shoulders poked through the apex, along with the ears of the horse he was astride.
Dint (noun) –By force or power. Example: By dint of hard work she became head of the company.
Gyrate (verb) –to move in a circle/spiral around a fixed point. Example: One band performed accompanied by dozens of gyrating midgets.
Balsam (noun) –Of the genus Commiphora.
Slogged (verb) –to hit hard as in boxing. Example: All along you’ll have to slog through courses unrelated to the fundraising profession.
Seracs (noun) –A large glacier of ice found in waters and formed by movement of ice. Example: Bergschrunds, couloirs, moats and seracs peppered conversations—animated tales of past ascents of both ice and stone.
Mar (verb) –To make useless, impair or soil. Example: Factual errors mar the essay.
Traverse (verb) to pass along or move over. Example: These are the main, federal roads that traverse the state.
Bergschrund (noun) a crevasse at the upper end of the mountain glacier.
Cankered (adjective) morally corrupt. Example: Burning all cankered or dead branches or twigs will eliminate the infection source.
Névé (noun) a field of such snow.
Larches (noun) of the genus Larix.