Revision: Cold Knap Lake by Gillian Clarke

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Cold Knap Lake by Gillian Clarke
Themes: Memory, danger
Main ideas:
Stanzas 1-3: The poet is recalling an event in which her mother rescued a drowning girl.
o These three stanzas are told like a fairytale; there is a beginning, middle and end.
Stanzas 4-5: Clarke questions whether the memory was real or not. In the end she
concludes that memories become murky and unclear that's just how it is.
Thoughts and feelings:
o "Kneeling on the earth, a heroine, her read head bowed" and "My mother gave a
stranger's child her breath" suggest that Clarke idolises her mother as she is brave
and selfless.
o "Was I there?" and the rest of stanza 4 show that Clarke is confused about what's
real and what's imagined. She is questioning whether the event happened or if it
was a story from her childhood which she added her family members to.
o "Where satiny mud blooms in cloudiness..." and the rest of stanzas 4 & 5 are quite
philosophical and this creates a sense of wonder as Clarke tries to answer the
question she's asked herself.
Closing couplet ­ "All lost things lie under closing water, in that lake with the poor man's
daughter." The rhyming couplet brings the poem to a neat conclusion. It also echoes the
form of a fairytale.
Simple lexis (Vocabulary) is used in the first three stanzas to inform the reader that the
event is from a child's perspective.
Enjambment ­ show that the poem is the poet's train of thought
Stanza length ­ The stanzas alternate 4,6,4,6 in a fixed pattern. This emphasises the theme
of memory because the main points are fixed and the details are looser.
Half rhyme ­ (Earth/Breath, bowed/soaked) creates the effect of a distant echo.
The language is dramatic in the first three stanzas and philosophical in the last two.
o "The crowd stood silent" ­ This is very dramatic and sounds almost too amazing to
be true which suggests that the event didn't actually happen
o "We once watched..." sounds like `Once upon a time' which you often see at the
beginning of fairytales.
Alliteration: "Drawn by the dread of it" ­ This adds dramatic flair to the poem and prolongs
the excitement and anticipation of the reader as they wait to discover the fate of the girl.

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Dressed in water's long green silk" ­ This suggests that the girl is covered with pond
weeds after being rescued from the lake. It's similar to the description of
princesses' dresses in fairytales; perhaps suggesting that the event was fictious.
o "Satiny mud blooms in cloudiness..." ­ This describes how memories can become
muddled and unclear. However, "Bloom" suggests that although not all memories
are real they still provoke happy feelings.…read more


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