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Elizabeth Brewster
"Where I Come From"
Brief overview
►The poem is about how our personal
identity is strongly influenced by the places
we have lived and visited...
Poem
► People are made of places. They carry with them
hints of jungles or mountains, a tropic grace
or the cool eyes of s...
Stanza 1
►The first bit is like the introduction to an
essay, it summarises the idea of the poem.
►The next bit is all abo...
Lines 1-3
People are made of places. They carry with them
Hints of jungles or mountains, a tropic grace
or the cool eyes o...
Techniques
►People are not made of places in a literal
sense – it‟s a metaphor!
►You can‟t get „cool eyes‟ – it‟s metaphor...
Atmosphere of cities
how different, drops from them, like the smell of smog
or the almost-not-smell of tulips in the sprin...
nature tidily plotted with a guidebook;
 Nature in cities is not as wild free as in the
county. It is organised by town p...
or the smell of work, glue factories maybe,
chromium-plated offices; smell of subways
crowded at rush hours.
► This is the...
crowded at rush hours.
►Use of plural here emphasises what?
►What do you understand?
Stanza 2
The countryside
►This section of the poem creates a strong
image of the countryside – positive and
negative.
►Bre...
Line 1 - the I persona‟s identity
This is made personal by the use of „first
person‟
She writes, „Where I come from‟
The p...
people
carry woods in their minds, acres of pine
woods;
►Another metaphor – highly effective
because of the comparison bet...
Some nerdy notes - don‟t read
unless particularly interested
► Life 15: direct contrast to the first stanza where
everythi...
►Line 17-18: emphasis on it being an old
building remaining only for practical purposes
and not being replaced by a more a...
Last two lines
A door in the mind blows open, and there blows
a frosty wind from fields of snow
► Rhyming couplet – there ...
Or a more nerdy interpretation
► Another idea to ponder on the last two lines of the
poem.
► The "door" could be the memor...
And finally
► Structure
► Three stanzas
Two contrasting stimuli for creating identity
Two lines to finish Two contrasting ...
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Where i come from

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Where i come from

  1. 1. Elizabeth Brewster "Where I Come From"
  2. 2. Brief overview ►The poem is about how our personal identity is strongly influenced by the places we have lived and visited. This is an easy idea to understand and relates directly to you! ►She is also slightly critical of city life. ►Write down the places that have shaped your life so far. ►Choose the two most opposite.
  3. 3. Poem ► People are made of places. They carry with them hints of jungles or mountains, a tropic grace or the cool eyes of sea gazers. Atmosphere of cities how different drops from them, like the smell of smog or the almost-not-smell of tulips in the spring, nature tidily plotted with a guidebook; or the smell of work, glue factories maybe, chromium-plated offices; smell of subways crowded at rush hours. Where I come from, people carry woods in their minds, acres of pine woods; blueberry patches in the burned-out bush; wooden farmhouses, old, in need of paint, with yards where hens and chickens circle about, clucking aimlessly; battered schoolhouses behind which violets grow. Spring and winter are the mind's chief seasons: ice and the breaking of ice. A door in the mind blows open, and there blows a frosty wind from fields of snow.
  4. 4. Stanza 1 ►The first bit is like the introduction to an essay, it summarises the idea of the poem. ►The next bit is all about the city. ►It describes this using metaphors and a clever plural at the end. ►These things help create the tone
  5. 5. Lines 1-3 People are made of places. They carry with them Hints of jungles or mountains, a tropic grace or the cool eyes of sea gazers This is a metaphor
  6. 6. Techniques ►People are not made of places in a literal sense – it‟s a metaphor! ►You can‟t get „cool eyes‟ – it‟s metaphorical.
  7. 7. Atmosphere of cities how different, drops from them, like the smell of smog or the almost-not-smell of tulips in the spring, ► „Atmosphere‟ don‟t drop from people, it‟s a metaphor again. The poet suggests that we „drop‟ / give off evidence of the places we have been. ► The author is trying to show that the atmosphere of the place you live in can affect the way that you live, throughout the year as nature progresses through its seasons, atmospherically city life changes greatly. Especially city folk – when you are a country bumkin and visa- versa ► smog = telling us about a typical winters day with density of the air being greater and the water vapor blinding our sight, ► „the almost-not-smell of tulips in the spring‟ = tells us how the flowers of spring are starting to blossom, not fully grown. The „smell‟‟ of the tulips that grow in the city is „almost-not „ the same richness as country side tulips.
  8. 8. nature tidily plotted with a guidebook;  Nature in cities is not as wild free as in the county. It is organised by town planners and included in city maps and guides. In the country, there is not much restriction and no guide books as to what grows where.
  9. 9. or the smell of work, glue factories maybe, chromium-plated offices; smell of subways crowded at rush hours. ► This is the part where she creates a negative tone. ► Words with negative connotations do this. ► Write down the feelings and thoughts that these words connote ► What does she suggest about life in the city? ► Write an extended paragraph Glue Factories Chromium- plated Subways
  10. 10. crowded at rush hours. ►Use of plural here emphasises what? ►What do you understand?
  11. 11. Stanza 2 The countryside ►This section of the poem creates a strong image of the countryside – positive and negative. ►Brewster uses first person, metaphors, a clever rhyming couplet, and structure ►Keep looking at your photocopy of the poems
  12. 12. Line 1 - the I persona‟s identity This is made personal by the use of „first person‟ She writes, „Where I come from‟ The poet uses techniques – one of those is first person - the „I‟ persona.
  13. 13. people carry woods in their minds, acres of pine woods; ►Another metaphor – highly effective because of the comparison between the effects of location on the personality and carrying something physically. ►Going beyond the text - Brewster‟s childhood, she comes from New Brunswick, Canada, 80% forested and so the forest or „woods‟ will always be in the people‟s minds as it is the centre of the little community.
  14. 14. Some nerdy notes - don‟t read unless particularly interested ► Life 15: direct contrast to the first stanza where everything is new and attractive. The old farmhouses are there solely to serve a purpose and until they stop serving that purpose they will be kept, regardless of looks. ► Line 16-17: Brewster portrays a farming life with the ideas of chickens and hens kept in yards = provide a source of food;‟ yards‟ shows us that in the country there is the room to spare to be able to keep them, whereas in conjunction with stanza 1, the chickens would not be kept – no room or need to keep them
  15. 15. ►Line 17-18: emphasis on it being an old building remaining only for practical purposes and not being replaced by a more attractive building. „behind which violets grow‟ backs up the earlier line of „blueberry's growing in the burnt out bush‟, it shows how nature can create a picture of beauty anywhere, out of anything.- contrast to nature „tidily plotted‟ (stanza 1) ►Line 18-19 Spring and winter = two opposing seasons; winter could therefore represent the cold city life and spring the colourful country life. „Ice and breaking of ice‟ refers to something in the mind that is broken when one makes the transition from the city to the country
  16. 16. Last two lines A door in the mind blows open, and there blows a frosty wind from fields of snow ► Rhyming couplet – there blows//fields of snow ► Why is this technique used? To highlight the ending? The last two lines are puzzling. The door blowing open is just another gateway opening in the mind to the memories that she holds of her childhood. The second half of these lines „and there blows a frosty wind from fields of snow‟ = gives a feel to the picture that she has been describing and it gives the reader a cold feeling. The frosty wind from the fields of snow is relevant because in Canada the winter = very frosty, lots of snow and wind.
  17. 17. Or a more nerdy interpretation ► Another idea to ponder on the last two lines of the poem. ► The "door" could be the memory opening in a blast of nostalgia, but the ► association of winter and the "frosty wind" suggest something less pleasant, like a realisation that the past, her place, is not so good after all. This is supported by the content of the second stanza, where things may seem superficially attractive in a rustic way, but are “burned out”, “old, in need of paint”, where the chickens cluck “aimlessly” and buildings are “battered”. So the suggestion is that it is easy to remember formative places all too positively, but their legacy can be negative; a “frosty wind” in the mind? ► The rhyming couplet is a pleasant feeling technique on the tongue and it creates an ironic contrast with the message of sadness/nostalgia
  18. 18. And finally ► Structure ► Three stanzas Two contrasting stimuli for creating identity Two lines to finish Two contrasting stimuli for creating identity Two narrative angles - third person and first In other words – the multiple influences on identity are represented in multiple stanzas

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