A Martian sends a postcard home

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  • Created by: Georgina
  • Created on: 23-05-11 17:49

Amongst the objects which the Martian sees are books with fluttering pages which makes the reader laughor his eyes dissolve into tears.  The television, the ‘Model T' withits video recorder, captures the movement of the world and time ticks away on a watchor a clock.  The telephone is seen as a little troubled ghost that cries out and is soothed like a baby when it is answered.  It is puzzling when the baby ghost, comforted and silent, is deliberately woken up again by its ‘parent' dialing.  The toilet is seen as a ‘punishment room' where adults go into voluntary solitary banishment without food, apparently to suffer. Darkness is a timew hen colour drains into blackness and the humans pair off to sleep, hidden from view under bed clothes, and dream.

Craig Raine's clever metaphors can be traced like clues, for example, books are ‘birds' with ‘wings' and distinct ‘markings' which can't ‘fly' but can'perch'.  His use of language is precise and vivid and based on acute observation, as in his simile which captures exactly the smudgy greyness of mist, ‘like engravings under tissue paper'.  He has noticed the darkening of colour in the rain and captured the oddly animate sound, the ‘snore' of mechanical telephone's dialing tone. The free verse with its lack of rhyme scheme and metrical pattern is appropriate for the Martian's sense of roving curiously as he views these strange objects and behaviour.

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There are obvious inconsistencies in the Martian's view:  why does he call books ‘Caxton's' if he knows nothing about books and printing (reference to Caxton printing etc)  If he doesn't know about reading, how can he describe dreaming as reading with closed eyelids, or compare ‘bookish' mist with engravings?   Such rigid application of reasoning is not in tune with the spirit of Raine's writing here:  the poem is not about a Martian really, but merely a witty, humourous game to be enjoyed, forcing the reader to look at the familiar in an unfamiliar way.

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