First 653 words of the document:
Catrin by Gillian Clarke
Written to answer the poet's question "Why did my beautiful baby have to become a teenager?"
Focuses on her loving, yet sometimes tense relationship with her daughter, and recounts two
struggles they had
Looks at how tied together, and cannot escape this, however much they fight
The poet is both glad of how her daughter is growing up, yet does not want to give her the
independence she desires
Love consistently throughout the poem, yet with struggling and frustration within this
Split into two halves, telling of her birth, then when she is a teenager, with a gap between showing
passage of time, and leaving reader guessing what has happened in between
The gentle, irregular rhythm of the poem expresses the love the mother feels for the child, and
sounds like a natural, spontaneous train of thought.
Enjambment used in line 5/6 to represent the turning of the cars, and in line 15/16 the physical
separation of the words represents the separation at birth, and emphasises the word "separate".
Title tells name of the child, which is not mentioned again, reflecting both the poem's universality, but
as it is addressed to the child, how the relationship is so close names are unnecessary.
First stanza is in past tense, telling of the birth of her daughter. The second is in the present,
suggesting there is still a struggle and their love is still as intense.
Very simple language, indicating the simple, intense feelings the poem conveys.
Clarke says she chose skating in the dark to be the dispute's focus as it is something children are likely
to want to do and parents are likely to refuse, and shows "it is beautiful and dangerous to be young."
Perhaps the mother sees that and would like to let her daughter out to enjoy it, yet worries about
what may happen if she does.
Alliteration and assonance links and emphasises ideas. For example repeated f sounds suggest
heavy-breathing from the effort of birth, and with the t sound also show the tension and precision of
In lines 24-26 "s", "ong" and "air" sounds give idea of Catrin' strident strength
Ward shown to be "hot, white", "environmental blank" which is a comparison to the loving event
which will happen, suggesting how their struggling brought love, so they go together.
Outside life is continuing as normal, yet a momentous event is about to happen. Mention of them
turning at the traffic lights could symbolise how her life will now be controlled by another force.
"the tight red rope of love" refers to the umbilical cord, with red due to the blood flowing and
connoting to love, passion and anger, contrasting to the white hospital.
"bringing up/From the hearts pool that old rope" is metaphorical of a boat in a harbour being held by
a rope, which is not always visible, but always there, showing she still feels the umbilical cord holding
her to her child.
Word "fought" shows brutality of childbirth, and the poets wonder and how love is created through
The mention of writing on the walls could refer to her screams of pain, but also the saying "it's
written on the wall" showing that something is inevitable, showing it is already certain she will grow
up and become a teenager.
"Wild, tender circles" refer to contractions, and the oxymoronic emotion of love and pain when giving