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In praise-of-creation


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In praise-of-creation

  1. 1. In Praise of Creation Understanding the poem and its languages, and connecting it to the previous poem studied On entry – solve this POETIC riddle: In marble walls as white as milk, Lined with skin as soft as silk, In a fountain crystal clear, A golden treasure does appear. There are no doors to this stronghold, Yet thieves break in and steal the gold. What is it?
  2. 2. How would you praise creation? And what would you praise? • In the poem ‘In Praise of Creation’ Elizabeth Jennings praises all living beings, human and animal alike. The speaker is in awe of the magnificence of life around her. • If you think about the world around you, what would be worthy of a poem, what aspect of ‘creation’ are you impressed with?
  3. 3. First reading of the poem, read and answer these questions: • What do you think of the poem? Has Jennings successfully made you share her feelings about the world around her? • What is she praising exactly? • Who does she think made the world (can you tell? If so, what would you use to prove this?)
  4. 4. Some info about the poet • Elizabeth Jennings (July 18, 1926 - October 26, 2001) is an English poet whose works usually relate intensely personal matters (though not necessarily autobiographical) in a plainspoken, traditional, and objective style. Her verse frequently reflects her devout Roman Catholicism and her love of Italy.* • With this info in mind, who do you think she ‘holds responsible’ for creation? *
  5. 5. Analysing the poem in detail, in pairs, answer these questions (stanza 1, 2, 3): • Look at the first stanza. What is Jennings saying here and what is the effect of the repeated use of ‘one’? • She offers evidence that creation is so amazing that one simple thing is already awe inspiring. We are made to contemplate this and are likely to share her awe. • What aspect of nature is she impressed with most in stanza 2? How does she make us see this? • The order of / in nature. This is stressed in the order in this stanza (anaphora in lns 6 & 7 ao) and what she describes. • What aspect of nature is being admired in stanza 3? How does the poet build anticipation in this stanza? • The tiger, coming with a warning sign. But the last two lines indicate something is about to happen…
  6. 6. • What do you think she is describing in stanza 4? This is what she built towards in stanza 3; what’s the effect of what we are reading now? • The speaker describes the way the shadow of the tigress falls over the tiger, and there would be “a passion” and “a scent”. The speaker is referring to the mating of the tiger and the tigress. The world seems to go “turning, turning”, which might imply things are out of control OR it might mean that in spite of this the earth keeps spinning, order remains. Either way, the event is put down as memorable, special – “beyond reason” in such a way that we understand the significance. We share her awe. Analysing the poem in detail, in pairs, answer these questions (stanza 4):
  7. 7. • The poet doesn’t include humanity until the very end of the poem. What parallel does she seem to make and how are ‘we’ also different? • The mating shows some parallels to what might be a human sexual experience. The use of the word “man” at the end of the poem confirms this; it’s the first time it’s mentioned. After a poem that reflects upon nature and all of creation. At the end of the poem she mentions a human being whose mind is left “ajar”. This might suggest that human intercourse is just as ordered as the rest of creation, however, there seems to be difference in that the animals are ‘quiet’ after sex and humans are left with ‘mind ajar’, so pondering creation (like she is doing in the poem). Analysing the poem in detail, in pairs, answer these questions (stanza 5):
  8. 8. Language and structure • How does the structure reflect the content of the poem? • The poet describes the order in the world in a very structured (5 4-line stanzas, ABAB rhyme). Stanza 3-4 are enjambed reflecting the passionate story in that part. • What other poetic devices are used to enhance meaning and feeling? • Repetition of ‘one’ / metaphor for the tiger’s skin / personification ‘the season sieves the earth’  all connected to making us understand the order of things and her awe for nature.
  9. 9. Plenary • Write down one difference and one similarity between ‘In Praise of Creation’ and ‘The Cage Skylark’ • Which of these two poems did you like better?