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Elegy For My Father's Father

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Ngan Nguyen

on 11 December 2015

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Transcript of Elegy For My Father's Father

Born in Dunedin in 1926
One of New Zealand's best known and loved poet.
He took an interest in poems at an early age
By 18, he had his first collection of poems published.
He was influenced by the Romantic poets and classical mythology.
About the poet
Activity 1
After reading the poem, write down or discuss with your partner the gist of the poem.
He knew in the hour he died
That his heart has never spoken
in eighty years of day

He knew in the hour he died
That his heart had never spoken
In song or bridal bed
James K. Baxter
Elegy For My Father's Father
Elegy For My Father's Father

Baxter was quite critical about social inequality and poverty. His critiques weren't always well received.
They stood by the the graveside
From his bitter vein born
And mourned him in there fashion

A chain of sods in a day
He could slice and build
High as the head of a man
And a flowering cherry tree
On his walking shoulder held
Under the lion sun

When he was old and blind
He sat in the curved chair
All day by the kitchen fire.
Many hours he had seen
The stars in their drunken dancing
Through the burning-glass of his mind
And sober knew the green
Boughs of heaven folding
The winter world in their hand
The pride of his heart was dumb
Unknown Words:
Cairn - a pile of stones, raised as a monument
Aaronsrod - flowering shrub
Burning-glass - magnifying glass
Sod - surface of the ground
Imagery: The four seasons
"flowering cherry tree": Spring
- the stage when we are born into life
- new beginning, reborn, new hope
- reminder of the beautiful things in life (i think idk)

"Lion sun": Summer
- time for growth and development
- youthful, energetic, active days

Free verse
No rhyming structure, which implies that his grandfather's life is not structured.
Only consists of one long stanza - represents one long life.
Random pattern
And the naked thought fell back
to a house by the waterside
And the leaves the wind had shaken
With the dark mouths of the dead
The tongues of water spoke
and his heart was unafraid

Imagery: The four season
"The winter world in their hand": Winter
- time of reflection
- the end of a year (time and life)
- period of coldness and death

"boughs oh heaven folding"; "leaves the wind had shaken": Autumn
- "boughs": the largest branch of a tree
- The season when everything slows down
- a time to remember and appreciate life before winter comes
Full transcript