beachcomber - carol ann duffy

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  • Beachcomber
    • what is the poem about?
      • The poem is about someone looking in an old photograph – “The child // and not in sepia” and recalling a memory of themselves on the beach when they were younger.
    • who is the persona?
      • There are three speakers in the poem: You, She and the speaker.
        • You = you seems to be like the person who is trying to recall the memory, she seems old – “Those older, those shaking, hands cannot touch” The use of the determiner “those” and the superlative “older” suggests the persona ‘you’s’ age.
        • She = ‘She’ is the little girl in the picture who ‘you’ is trying to find.
        • The Speaker = the speaker appears to be someone who is helping ‘you’ to recall the memory and is leading her almost hypnotic trance of following the memory.
    • themes
      • The Speaker = the speaker appears to be someone who is helping ‘you’ to recall the memory and is leading her almost hypnotic trance of following the memory.
      • Identity = as the persona is looking at herself she may be looking back at herself and her previous identity. The fact that her hands were “shaking” May not only represent that she is old, it also suggests that she is upset implying that she misses her previous self.
      • Sense of Place = The use of the assonance of “Sea water seeping in” conveys the sound of the sea, and gives a reader clear sense of the place
    • language
      • Sibilance = “Sea-water seeping in” & “Go for the sound of the sea.” – Represents the sound of the sea and suggests that the persona’s memory of the beach is so strong that it is causing her to speak like it. Or it could also suggest that the person trying to guide the other person trying to remember the memory using the sibilance as a way of putting her back into the memory.
      • Field Specific Lexis = “Bucket”, “seaweed”, “spade” all of these concrete nouns are used to convey a sense of the beach to an audience, so although the poem is about someone trying to remember their memories of the beach the poem also has a second purpose of providing imagery to the audience to make them relive their own experiences of the beach, as it is a common memory.
      • Repetition of the conjunction “or” = “Open your eyes. Those older, those shaking, hands cannot touch the child or the spade or the sand or the seashells on the shore.” This contrasts with the sibilance and the field specific lexis as they were used to put the persona into the memory, however the use of the conjunction “or” has a harsh tone that seems to disjoint the memory and bring the persona back into reality.

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