James Keir Baxter was born in 1926, in Dunedin, NewZealandBaxter become one of New Zealand‟s finest poets andmost controversial figuresIn his short life he produced a huge number of poems,plays, literary criticism and social/religious commentaryHis father was Archibald Baxter, who was one of NewZealand‟s better-known pacifist from the First World WarBaxter took an interest in poetry from an early ageHis first collection of poems where published in 1944,when he was only 18He was deeply influenced by the Romantic poets andclassical mythology
After visiting India in 1959,he returned to NewZealand, deeply concernedwith the poor and socialinequality – an idea heshowed through his poemsHis strong judgements ofsociety were often harshand were not always wellreceivedBaxter died of a heartattack on 22 October 1972.
Different kind of title – very directWritten in past tense – reflectionWritten is second person – author describing thedeath of someone elseIdea of „Death‟ – universal ideaPoem is one stanza long (written on two pagesbut actually one stanza)Tone is dull and slowReferences to nature and waterFree Verse
‘Elegy’ A sad and thoughtful Poem about sorrow poem lamenting the and praise death of a person. Sorrow for the deathLamenting – passionate but praise for his life. expression of grief. Elegy For my Father‟s Father Title very direct. ‘Father’s Father’ Targeted at one Grandfather not used. specific person. Creates more of a distance. Dedicated to father‟s Distant relationship or father – male generation cycle. dominance Adds more to the age.
Death – natural processRemembrance of the pastGrief/PraiseTimeAgingSkillSeasons – changePhases of life
‘cairn’ - A mound of rough stones built asa memorial or landmark, typically on ahilltop. Burial mound made of stones.‘aaronsrod’ – flowering shrub‘sods’ – surface of the ground heldtogether by matted roots‘burning-glass’ – magnifying-glass‘boughs’ – the main large branch of a tree
„He knew in the hour he died That his heart had never spoken‟„He‟ – personal pronoun Used to refer specifically to the author‟s „Father‟s Father‟„in the hour he died‟ – didn‟t know before of after Point of realisation – stuck in a period of realisation Long death – peaceful or painful?„ died‟ – strong with more impact instead of „passed away‟„his heart had never spoken – personification the father‟s father never truly expressed his real feelings or emotions He was more reserved and detached – that was his personality„heart‟ – centre of emotions and essential organ for life “The human heart feels things the eyes cannot see, and knows what the mind cannot understand”„had never spoken‟ – silenced/unemotional The heart has not functioned it part – he underestimated his feelings but realised too late Masculine character – strong figure linked to the „tall tower‟
„In eighty years of days O for the tall tower broken‟„eighty years of days‟ – used instead of eight years of life Each day was unique and a challenge for Baxter‟s grandfather Draws out the time – adds to the distance shown in the title„O for the tall tower broken‟ – „tall tower‟ metaphor for life. Life is a process of different events that help us to grow, physically in height and emotionally to build our knowledge. The floors of a building are the ages of life – the taller the tower, the more experience a person is in life and the older they are „broken‟ – when things are falling apart – linked to the point of realisation „eighty years of days‟ links to the use of the „tall tower‟ „tall tower‟ – alliteration. Added to exaggerate the length of life „tower‟ – usually seen as something strong and sturdy, and characteristics linked to males With the addition of „broken‟ it implies how life is unexpected and can fall apart
„They stood by the graveside From his bitter veins born And mourned him in their fashion‟„they stood by the graveside/…/And mourned him in their fashion‟ The theme of death is present as the author is talking about the burial of his grandfather The family members were finding it difficult to mourn for his death as they all „mourned him in their fashion‟ The family members did not actually know how the grandfather wanted to be farewelled as „his heart had never spoken‟, he hadn‟t expressed what he wanted of felt.„From his bitter veins born‟ „bitter‟ – resulting from grief, anguish and disappointment. Links back to the „heart had never spoken‟ The grandfather felt „bitter‟ after „he knew in the hour he died/…/that his heart had never spoken
„He could slice and build… On his walking shoulder held Under the lion sun‟„He could slice and build‟ A more active time in life – active verbs „slice‟/„build‟ – Prime stage for him Author is praising the grandfather for his skill and commitment – Adds a slight more positive tone for this section of the poem Linked to summer – A stage in life where we are most active Contrasts whats on the next slide„On his walking shoulder held‟ – MetaphorCarrying the load on his shoulders – carrying the pressures of life along withhimBeing the man of the family – having to stay strong as the masculine figureand carry more of the load.„lion‟ – a strong authoritative/dominant figureLinked to the „tall tower‟„summer‟ – season – linked to the life cycle
„When he was old and blind… He sat in a curved chair‟„old and blind‟ – agingLive is catching up to BaxterCapability to be the strong figure fading„When‟ – past tense – reflection of what used to happen before thegrandfather passed away„sat in a curved chair‟Contrasts the active words mentioned in the previous slideAs the time is coming nearer to the cold „Winter‟ of end, things arebecoming progressively slower – the tone is transferred back to being dull„sat‟ enhances the grandfathers incapabilityReflects the old age of inability in contrast to the prime age of activeness
„The tongues of water spoke And his heart was unafraid‟„tongues of water spoke‟ – personificationAnother person of his conscience talking to him in his dreamsReminding him that all this time the grandfather had been able to keepthe emotions bolted in and now death shouldn‟t be something to bringthem outBaxter‟s father‟s father was aware of the cycle of life – shown through thevarious seasonsThis aided his heart to be „unafraid‟„water‟ also has its own cycle, like the life cycleIt is an essential element for life, like the „heart‟The „heart‟ and „water‟ are both natural aspects of life – Baxter uses theseaspects to explain how natural death comes as a process of lifeDespite the grandfather‟s failure to express feelings, he was sensitive tohis experiences of the natural world around him.
The Cycle of Life – Shown through the seasonswhich are metaphorically mentioned in the poem. „flowering cherry tree‟ „flowering‟ – coming into life/blossoming New beginning, being re-born, new hope Reminder that beautiful things must be enjoyed and appreciated in life before it is too late Shows the stage in life when we are born and coming into life „Under the lion sun‟ „lion‟ – a strong authoritative/dominant figure A leader – someone others follow Again linked to the „tall tower‟ „sun‟ – summer – a time for growth and development Represents a time of growth and development as humans youthful days
The Cycle of Life – Shown through the seasonswhich are metaphorically mentioned in the poem. The winter world in their hand.‟ „winter‟ – time of reflection Usually refer to wet, cold, suffering, destruction, freezing The end of time and life Period of coldness, misery and death Remembering the past but also shows wisdom „Boughs oh heaven folding‟/‟leaves the wind had shaken‟ „boughs‟ – largest branch of a tree – grandfather was the support system of the family Autumn is the season which things slow down, to enjoy the time remaining A time to appreciate the things in life that remain before winter arrives Again, the symbols of nature also shows how the father‟s father had a keen awareness of the cycle of life – this enabled him to be „unafraid‟ of death
The poem is just one stanza long(even though it is on two pages – it is actually one stanza) The stanza consists of 38 lines The use of one long stanza represents life as one long process – it is continuous It starts from the beginning and finishes at the very end – there are no pauses between life just like there are no gaps between the lines of the poem The length of the lines have no pattern and there is no rhyming scheme – showing how life is not structured. It is random with no automatic pattern it can follow Through the in-depth interpretation, the author has tired to draw on audiences attention towards the deeper meanings of life, if they even is one
Follower – Seamus HeaneyPraise Song for My Mother –Grace NicholsA Dream – WilliamAllinghamMy Parents – StephenSpender