Skirrid Hill - Owen Sheers

  • Created by: 13gpascoe
  • Created on: 31-03-19 10:35

Mametz Wood

Battle of Mametz Wood-largest wood in Somme Battlefield. Mainly the Welsh division (38th) fighting here. Red Dragon memorial for them. "Note they had sung" - Welsh culture of song/choir.

Celebration of Welsh Identity, Loss, Grief, How the Past informs the Present, Flawed decisions/authority

"Chit" "China" - like a gun, intrusive sound, body parts have been reduced to inanimate fragments of a whole. "breaking blue in white" - mix of stone & human remains. "They were told to walk not run" - naieve, poorly trained & inequipped, easy targets in the broad daylight. "Nesting machine guns" - fertility, concealed and coocooned, safety. "Sentinel" - in hommage to the great loss that has occured, refers to soldiers keeping watch, now the earth watches as they are no longer there. "Linked arm in arm" - unity, signified they were from the same army corps. 

Tercets - typical Welsh. Coexistence of the Past and the Present. Sombre pace/tone. "they" "their" - unity of the soldiers. Enjambment - reflection of time passing/solidarity. 2nd Stanza - commas, breaking sentence, reflecting the gradual discovery of the items. 

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Links to 'Gift' by R.S. Thomas, about inheritance and whether it comes from God or Nature. 

Family, Love, Relationships, Nostalgia, Respect, Love for Nature

"Stick in the spokes of my speech" - sounds like a stammer, broken s's. "bones" & "stone" - rhyming, innate connection between his father and the natural world. Juxtapostition - "order of maps" vs "chaos of bad weather" - "pain in the pleasure" - the mother can never fully enjoy herself? "fact into fable" - storyteller. Semantic field of forgery - binding together "hammer" "red hot" "core" "cooled" - metaphor for how life has shaped him.

"A tired blink" - short sentence reflects the gentle blink. 2 separate stanzas = 2 separate beings, the mother and the father. Structure reflects the binding of the two in the final stanza. Reflective/affectionate/respectful tone. Last 2 lines = monosyllabic, relflects the consistent hammering of the metal e.g. shaping of his life. 

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Homphone - father & farther (why choose this one? Ambiguity) Religious Holy Father and Son relationship, biblical. Metaphorical journey of a father and son. "split they say by a father's grief" - Skirrid Hill split when God lost his son. Climbing a mountain to solve a problem. 

Family, Division, Father/Son relationship, Nature, Religion, Wales, Generations, Revelation

"the long way around" - how life can get overcomplicate. "simplified by snow" - nature's presence is soothing. "solved by moss" - answers lie with Mother nature? SF of Religion "altar" "father's grief." "Slope steeper than expected" - metaphor, relationship trickier than thought at times. "Broken stone" - instability. Breathing = "short and sharp and solitary" - sibilance, harshness, the son is now the stronger of the two, his father is ageing "tipping in the scales of us." "a country unrolled before us" - metaphorical map/scroll = revelation, clarity. "Every step apart" - the child growing up, moving away? "closer to you" - he become's more like his father with understanding, closer emotionally. 

Volta "Half way up" - focus on the father after this rather than the relationship as a unit. "I" & "you" instead of "we." 1 stanza!! Continous journey. In media res - reader dropped into their lives. 

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On Going

i.m. Jean Sheers - grandmother. Elegy, in honour of her. Contrasts with The Wake (Grandfather) 

Persistence, Continuity, Family, Love, Respect, Cyclical - Life/Death

"Instruments" - clincal tone. "soul's temperature" juxtapostion as it's emotional rather than a physcial "measure, record." Oxymoron/Antithesis "ancient child." Repetition of harsh 'k' constanants, "working" "skin" "cheek" - it's a struggle. Similie/Plosive B's - "like a blustery wind at a blind" - aural sounds, shaking, unsteady. "Paper temple" - thin, fraglity, wrinkly skin, religious connotations of temple = place of worship for the dead, on death's door?  Sibilance "slipped" "sleep" "slow" - no struggle, she was ready to go. Tone = dignified and elegant, also sorrowful but reflective. Weak verbs describing movement and sound. 

Quatrain - regularity, expected, no suprises, her death was inevitable? Enjambment between last two stanzas = she's slipping away. Free Verse - line lengths differ like her breathing, no rhyme scheme or regular beat, natural process, longer lines = emotional relflection. Speaker - visiting her at the hospital. 

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Stitch in Time

"A stitch in time saves nine" ie act now to secure your future. "Fiji" - where Sheers was born, "just 15" - perhaps an arranged marriage? Land is on the antimeridian, the land is both East & West like on SH you can see Eng & Wales. Antimeridian runs through his land and businesses, symbol of his success, he traces it to it's roots in Greenwich. 

Industry, Work/Skilled Proffesion, Family, Generations, Independence, Self-Sufficient, Split (home and away, rich and poor, east and west)

SF connected to tailors - "dummy" "cutter" "stitch" used METAPHORICALLY & LITERALLY! Repetition - "his wife, his wife" - rhythmic, sounds like a mantra, she is his motivation, family orientated. Similie "like a muscian round his double bass" - it is an artform that must be learnt, his dummy is his instrument that he can create beauty out of. Rhyming "land" "hand" "stitch" "pitch." Metaphor "as stiff as his oldest scissors" - inextricably linked, his profession has become him. Third person - humble, not boastful, never learn his name. 

20 couplets reflect his gradual stitching, unbroken structure reflects his continuos hard work across decades. 

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The Wake

Sheers' Grandfather who was a chest physician in the Navy. Contrasts with gentle slipping away of grandmother - oblivion vs awareness. 

Family, Loss, Life and Death, Profession, 

Irony - he is dying of lung disease, which he's spent his life curing in others. Alitteration "folded" "favourite" slotted in, comfort/discomfort? Ambiguos. "Scarred lungs" - remanats of previous operations, potentially more to come? SF of nautical imagery, reflecting profession - "hull" "driftwood" "wave" "water." Extended metaphor "two pale oceans" = his two lungs. "driftwood" - symbolic of the various experiences/knowlege he's gained of the disease. "Water" = the people around him, family and friends. "great ship" - majestic. Tone - strength, sadness, evident he doesn't want to die!!

Tercets until the final single line stanza, unsettled, couldn't finish but he knows what is on the horizon? Paniful awareness, he knows the structure/stages of the disease. 

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The Farrier

Sheers and his mother often went riding. Traditional skills of Welsh. A Farrier is someone who shoes horses.

Job/Profession, Masculinty, Admiration, Sexual, Gender roles

Skilled tone, gentle but overtly sexual at times. Similie "like a man putting his shouldered to a knackered car" - rude, abrupt. Alliteration "lips of his lover" - "a romantic lead" - sense that the horse can't escape from him, growing intimacy. Metaphor "a seamstress pinning the dress of the bride" - beauty/artform, care, delicacy. Onomatopoeia "slap" - harsh. Pronoun "his steel" - idea that he has branded her, she was unwillingly and uncomfortable. Female horse can be extended to be representative of all females.

Tercets - traditional Welsh culture, enjambment shows the natural progression of his work. 

Hints at uneasiness of male/female relations that is displayed throughout the collection. The farrier = archetypal masculine figure, hard manual labour - contrasts the male roles in Service/L.A. Evening. He alters the physicality of the horse, no sense that he wishes to comfort her before he does this though. Feel sympathetic for the horse.

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Marking Time

Brand Burn - prisoners and cattle marked this way. Split in the poem reflects the idea of "Skirrid." Modern Sonnet, 14 lines, draws on tradition of love poems.

Passion, Longevity, Relationships, Natural, Time, Division, Nostalgia, Sexual, Destructive nature of man - (carpet burn scar on her back from sex)

"Two tattered flags" - connotations of war. Sinister "brand burn" juxtaposed by soft "secret." "volte" - turning point, alerts you to the fact it's a modern sonnet. Matured natural imagery. "Buckles" - damaged but still remains. "Loving scar" - oxymoronic, longeivity. "Brand Burn" - plosive B's.

2 stanzas. Separated into the past and the present, the gap between them represents the time in which the scar has faded. S1 = artificial, man made imagery, about the physical sexual relationship, looking back upon a memory. S2 = natural, caring, loving, "under the bark" signifying a deeper connection.

14 lines, no rhyme scheme - modern sonnet. Split into 7 & 7 - theme of division and equality - past as important as the present?? Like The Farrier - the female is permanently marked by the male.

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May be based upon memories - may have been a short term relationship. 

Perfection, magic, spectator/artificiality, performance, power in the hands of a female (he is admiring her but there is a distance between them, she is placed on a pedestal) Unequal relationship - how does she feel? Fresh - still in awe of her appearance, 

"High heeled as curlews" = similie, curlews = elegant, long sharp beak. Metaphor of tennis match - slow moving but competitive & popular to watch. Wings = angelic, elegant. Metaphor of crocodile pit, agressive. Mascara brush = wand - magic/illusion, power to transform. Cinematic lexis - 'scene' 'focus.' Title links the two parts to the poem - intially he is watching the literal show, then she puts on a show when meeting him in the bar. Pianist similie - the mirror is her form of art. 

2 parts: 3 Tercets then 4 Quatrains (balance, perfection - like her.) - Like 2 Acts in a Show. Rhyming becomes more prominent - idea of the illusion increasing. "Pocus" and "Focus" = strong rhyme, complete enchantment. Part 1 = him watching the show as a whole. Part 2 = Admiring her specifically. Split between the spectator & the performer. Final quatrain = full rhyme (one of the only in the collection)

Title = connotations of insincerity & role play, echoes "Last Act." She mesmorises the male but is this attraction genuine ? - It's based on make-up, jewellery etc.

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Paris has connotations as the city of love. Water torture - water dripped on your head or made to listen to water dripping. 

Toxic relationship, Lovers' tiff

Clicking of her heels driving him insane, like "water torture" - asonance (repeating of vowel sounds,) reminds us of the awful things humans can do to one another, also a form of psychological torture - perhaps like love? She walks in front of him, as though she is leaving him?  "Evacuated" - anything that once was there has gone. Romantic Imagery emblematic of love - "heart" "pair" "valentine." Water imagery. Reduced to impressionistic parts, he's observing her. Swinging hips, unattainable, seduction. Clearly the END of a relationship. "Wrecked voyages" - symbolic of their relationship, thought they were over, the storm has passed, the water was destroying them, they've now landed on dry land. But uncertain reconciliation - what does the future hold for them?

Near death of the relationship but they've SURVIVED - is this good!?? Isolated lines, interjecting, summarising memories. 4 x 3 line stanzas (tercets.) 15 lines, almost a sonnet especially as last two lines rhyme - deliberate close resemblance to love. Enjambment between ship stanzas symobolises the birth of the new phase and reconnection. 

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Winter Swans

Swans = symbols of constance as they mate for life, commitment, united. 

Relationships, Weather/Nature, Lovers tiff

Pathetic Fallacy. "Waterlogged earth" - the ground is supposed to be a stable, supportive base, at the moment it is unstable, suffocation of the earth, overwhelmingly filled - SETTING reflects the status of the RELATIONSHIP. "Skirted" - avoided. Contrasted by physical harmony and unison of the swans. "Halved themselves" - two halves make a whole, 1/2 underwater. "Icebergs of white feather" - most concealed underwater, underneath the foundations are bigger, stronger - like the foundations of their relationship. White = symbolic of cowardice."Boats righting" - symbol of stability, return to equilibrium. Her speech = monosyllabic, clarity. "Slow-stepping" - tentative, care and hope. "Swum the distance" - involuntary, instictive reunion, seamless, mirror the actions of the swan - influence of the birds. Lexical field of birds - hope. 

Caesura - shift or pause "lake; silent and apart." Ending couplet - signifing the gentle reuniting of the couple. Tercet - poem about a couple, suggests imbalance in the relationship. Uneven line length = disjointed. Ends on a couplet - reflects the optimistic ending. Dialogue in the poem - olive branch. (Partial/half rhyme, move towards a fuller rhyme, reflects how relationship improves - mr bruff video)

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Night Windows

Edward Hopper picture referenced by this Title, in which you can see the female through the window.Voyeurism - gaining sexual pleasure from watching others engaged in sexual activity/naked. "Siren" - beautiful women who seduced sailors, lured them to their death. 

Performance, Sexual relations, Nature = Female 

Initimate language. Motif of nature - used to describe the female body. "Thin white drapes" - forming a clear silhouette of them. Multi-sensory language "curves" "body" "back." Simile - "like a bow" - ship/weaponary - danger. DETACHES HER BODY. Monosyllabic language, STRENGTH

Narrator looking back - past tense. Quatrains, ends on a tercet - idea of unfinished, inconclusive, it has been abandoned but AMBIVALENT. 

Far less intimate & enjoyable sexual experience than Marking Time, he's observing the lights outside, not what is happening to him - she leaves afterwards. Important - she's physically on top of him! - shift in dynamic between lovers.

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Time, Failed relationships, Loss  - like Last Act, 'ending' (ie of relationship) in what is normally the 'beginning' (getting keys cut) 

Lexical Field - references to locks and keys. Extended metaphor of the key and the lock. Lock = male, Key = female, sexual connotations, also the concept of 'fitting'/being made for on another. Pronouns in S1 reinforce the fact the relationship is over. Present tense verbs - reflecting the STATIC passing of time. Metaphor of an "uncut key" - optimism, hopefullness - he is then shaped by her.  "Fit" - click/harmony. "Chapel" - ambigous - marriage?? "Bow of your hip" - ship, violin/cello reflecting the shape of the hip. "Master key fit" - possibility that anyone could fit?? Or everything is unlocked to each other?? Plosive B's "bolt" "blade" "break" - monosyllabic finality. "Unpick" - like a code/lock metaphor for their problems. Colloquial "click" - get on with someone. 

In Medias Res - in the middle of things, reader launched into the situation. S3/4 = pinnacle of harmony, centre of poem. Enjambment between them, smooth passing of time unlike S1 & S2. Rhetorical Questions - he doesn't know the answer, confusion. 

Man made objects here instead of natural!

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Border Country

The boy's father shot himself in a corn field. Raymond Williams novel about this - father returning to Wales. "Border" - idea of Skirrid but also life/death & young/old. Death of car manufacturing industry in Wales, hints at the discontent in rural communities. Symbolism of the poppy - rememberance, taken too young. Title alludes to a novel by Raymond Williams - about a Welsh academic returning home when his father has a stroke.

Separation, Loss, Grief, Father/Son, Youth, War, Nostaligia, 

Violence/War imagery "kick" "dying" "shooting" "shotgun" "poppy" "dawn." "Gap toothed roof" - childlike innocence, naievity."Buzzards" - scavengers."Flint" - grey, used to start fires - idea of rallying youth. Strong verbs reflect timeless youth - on first page!! Personification of life "put on the brakes." Language reflects father's passing "rag" - tattered remanant. Meaninglessness "meandered" vs "striking" and "smashed." Birds compared to typography - seen also in Swallows. 

IDEA: He wasn't ready for his father to die > loss of childhood innocence & sense of belonging. "Border" - sense that Wales is bordered from GB, also a moment of transition, crossing into a new age e.g. fading away of car industry.

Rhyme "dead" "red" "dawn "corn." Adulthood brings a change of perspective, father's death is a volta, majestic descripition in first half, now "just cars in a quarry" - singular buzzard compared to buzzards. Use of the Buzzard's view - insignificance of life "spittle sheep." Regular 9 line stanzas. Reflection. 

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His welsh identity is inherently linked to nature. Av.lifespan of an oak = 1000's of years.

Deals with issues of family and nature, some optismism - "reddening sky" - imagery of the sun, previous poem - farther, focused on  inability to connect with dad. Idea: Father plants a tree when each of his children born, tree planting could mark life or death, Sheers ponders meaning of new tree - could be birth of another sibling? Or tree is for him - father's death approaching? Ambigous future.

"Trees" title - concept of a family tree, slow development of a tree is like that of a human, so trees here = metaphor for personal growth, identity & nature. "Oak" - strong, durable, possibly an attempt to extend family legacy. "Middle" of the field = division between life & death, isolated position in the middle? Trees each planted in far off fields - lack of connection? "nods" - blunt, prefers non verbal communication - his son is a writer! "I should have known" - hightlights gap between the father and son, cold reaction. "our arrivals" = children (OS & 2 siblings) - distance between trees could symbolise emotional distance? "Rising of a sun" - homophone for son, could be beginning/end of life. Extended metaphor of trees growing.

Couplets, final line = isolated - possibly the 'couplet' of him and his father has now been reduced to one - potential that his father has died? Sheers is acknowledging that one day his father will die and leave them as individuals.. "Now" - drawn back into the present.

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Joseph Jones

Popular Welsh surname, biblical inferences of Joseph - ironic as he behaves in a non-biblical way. Potentially a real person, or representing a type. "Red Wings" - loss of virginity, crude. "XR2" - typical boy racer car. This loutish behaviour references the decline in some Welsh towns. 

Passing of Time, Types -Young Male, Performance, Female representation, looking down at a small-town character.

Colloquial opening "of course." Arrogance and vanity present! Mysognistic, dislikeable. "Dead with scent" - so overpowering no O2 remains!! Idea of audience and performer "told us all." Rite of passage - taking a girl's virginity for "his" own. SHE IS REDUCED TO OBJECTS - no description above the waist. "White" - innocence, disturbing "shed." "Stroking his chest" - animalistic! "Small town myth" - concept diminishes him, there's one in every town, he's no big deal. 

4 stanzas, SLOPING to the right - showing his decline as his youth passes, dissapearing. Snapshots of this type. Dimished to brief clauses in a sentence. Yet previous poem - Hedge School is v.self depricating, suggesting Sheers feels he is no better than Jones?

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Late Spring

Welsh farming tradition. Spring as a season of fertility and new life - ironic, lambs about to lose their reproductive organs. Sheers' grandfather was a farmer.Type of castration here = ‘elastration,' involves stretching a very tight round elastic band around the scrotum of a lamb and letting the skin wither, die and drop off over a couple of weeks, same process used for docking the tails. Castration in lambs occurs to improve their size and taste therefore human interaction here = self-serving. BUT removal of tails prevents build-up of dung and fly-strike - technically self-serving, as farmer doesn't want stock to be spoiled by disease, but also beneficial to lamb. IDEA: Man's intereference in the natural world

Man vs Nature, Profession/Skill, 'Male' roles, Progression of Boyhood to Manhood, alteration of an animal for human purpose - similar to the Farrier.

"Feel like a man" - by taking away the testicles of the lamb - ironic, refers to 'masculine' manual labour. "like a man milking" "seeds"- ironic, by castrating lambs he's preventing the lambs from becoming sexually male/fertile. Sexual undertones "tool" "between his legs" "play it." Delicacy and skill evident as well. "Crown them" - birth - babies 'crowned.' 

Speaker observing. 

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Literature links - to the work of the author. Swallows = good omen, as they indicate nearness to land.

Nature, Mankind intereference, Generations, Fertility, Cycle, Beauty

Literary Lexical Field - "italic" "lines" "script" "ink" "sign" "page." Sibilance reflects the fast swooping movements of the birds, act of writing could be seen to be as natural as the flight of a bird for OS. Performance - "script" "sky-jive." Cyclical nature - "regeneration" "just always" "parent & child." Birds flying in unison - like OS wokring alongside his grandad or walking with his father.

Unrhymed quatrains

- One critic claims that many of the themes of the collection are contained within this poem e.g. nature, mankind's link to it, however it doesn't touch on destruction. 

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Y Gaer

Halfway through the collection - forms a diptych with The Hill Fort. Welsh for The Hill Fort. - Incomplete without each other - Sheers' had a childhood friend who died, this may be about him - he elegises a dead friend and empathises with the father, in Y Gaer & The Hill Fort.

Grief, Father/Son, Nature, Separation, Loss, Wales, Cycle, Weather,

"Trench and rampart" - defences. Personfication of the horse "veins mapping." "Land is 360" - idea of clarity, you can see all around, circular. "Against the wind's shoulder" - personifies the wind, the only thing great enough to support a father's grief, it literally holds him up. Tone = sad and angry, incomprehension. PATHETIC FALLACY. Semantic Field of references to circles. 

Halfway through collection, diptych. Mirrors The Hill Fort - same location & man but different times, contrasts between the two "bad weather" vs "clear day." Counterbalance/Opposites. Represents the PRESENT! Free verse - makes it sound like a personal account, absence of rhyme possibly suggests that the concept of this boy having died is irrational. Tercets.

Father revisiting the place he used to bring his son before he died, act of rememberance, possibly to release his anger. Seeking armistice in this specific place. 

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The Hill Fort

Same as Y Gaer. Diptych = set of relating works, 2 pieces, often linked. We learn the relevance of the Fort to the Father & Son.

Tretower-Wales Raglan-Monmouthshire(W) Bredwardine-Hereford(E)

Circle of Life, Grief, Father/Son, Cycle - Beginning & End, cyclical nature of humankind (the father keeps returning to this place,) Comfort of Nature 

IDEA: Man revisiting the place he took his recently deceased son to as a child.  

The Fort contains/protects the ashes of his son. Juxtaposition of weather - pathetic fallacy, his son is alive hence the "clear day." Similie "as wild as the long maned poines" - freedom of childhood. "Tongue of the wind" - metaphor - nature gently lapping up what's left of his son, spirited away. "No more than scattered grains" - they will grow & die like everyone else, some stronger/greener.

Represents the PAST. Tercets - typically Welsh. 3rd person, direct but imagined speech. Ellipsis ... expressing the vast scale of the landscape and it's continuation, idea of life's insignificance in perspective. Sheers embeds the man's unsaid thoughts in the middle of the poem 

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Could exist in their own right - 4 poems. 


"Swallows" "Bees" "A spider" "Nests" - images of animals/nature

Haiku poem - 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables. 

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Sheers' traditional farm upbringing. Epigraph - Logue = satirical text - extreme version of how the Welsh flag is perceived. Written when Sheers returned to Wales after being away, he was taken aback by the number of Welsh flags hung to support devolution in Wales.

Exploration of National Identity, Wales, Belonging

Increasing number of flags as you reach the coast - "throws up." "our" - unitfied national pride. "Wet washing" - lack of dignity in it's appearance in some areas, idea all classes feel a sense of Welsh pride. "Hall of mirrors" - reflect each other. "Swansea gym" - welsh culture. "The beast of it" - the dragon, the heart. "Currency of legend" - tourists providing income. "Blind spot" - criticism of Wales' insular view, it's blinkeredness. "Chinese burn" - pulled in different directions. "Bandage" - hold in the damage and the history. 

Enjambment - smooth transition of the train. Reflection upon the future and the past. 8 tercets. Free verse.

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The Steelworks

Almost a eulogy to an industrial age that has passed. Loss of the Welsh Identity, lack of purposeful work. Ebbw Vale - steelworks that shut down on 5th July 2002, before its closure it was the biggest tinplate producer in Britain @ the forefront of technological development, cause of repression. Consequences - some workers had to relocate, seek employment in new trades often for lower wages. Many unemployed, also depression, alcoholism & family breakdown - these ill effects being felt when Sheers writing SH.

Industry, Profession, Loss, Wales 

"Mothership" - reflects the central importance of the industry. "Breathless vents" - cruel irony - normally 'air' vents - sign no life remain there. Rhythmic verbs "pressing" and "dipping." "Kneeling and bowing" - religious connotations, new commitment for them. "Pumping iron" - dual meaning - industry or pumping weights. Pathetic Fallacy - the rain. Semantic field of metal "rusting" "rolling" "pumping iron."

Welsh tercets. Enjambement. 

Idea: At the gym, reflecting their previous work, new purpose in their lives. 

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Magpie song, 1 for sorrow, 2 for joy (yet here the 2 suffer.) Salute the Colonel - symbol of good or bad luck/ill omen-2 sides. Siren mythology, drew sailors to their deaths, he's transfixed by her, metaphorically trapped by her soul. Spring = new life. 

Relationships, Nature, Devotion, Romance vs Jealousy/Rivalry? "Love is all there is to save" - is this Sheers' belief?? Self-sacrifice. Hardship

"Bright bait" - shallow, artifical, represents someone else, plosive B's. Alliteration "fan" "feathers" - reflects the sound of the wind. "Oil spill" - irredescent shine, yet dangerous - stops sea birds from flying, metaphor. "Wing" "wire" "wring" - torturous, brutality - Narrative voice, simply an observer, no emotion. Motif of enclosure - trapped inside the cage - symbol of hardship for both. "Squawking" = onomatopoeia. Internal rhyme - wing & wring, contrast. "Wings" = angelic, guardianship.

Juxtaposition - ideas of torture and death - following stanza = love and devotion! Unnerving, sinister?? Enjambment - passing of time until the day she can be freed.  Final stanza = quatrain, unity completion. Anaphora - repetition of 'and' at the beginning of clauses. 

IDEA: She's trapped to attract other magpies, which the farmer then kills. Poet is imagining himself and his lover as 2 magpies (Metaphysical conceit.) The Farmer represents fate.

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"Landmark" - countryside place of interest? Personal landmarks as well e.g. birth, death. 

Relationships, Passion, Time, Death

"reclaiming" - their individuality after they've have physically shared everything by becoming one being. Pronouns s1 - they .. as soon as they 'awaken' in S2 = "his" "her" - recoginition of reality. Human interference - "telephone wires" "time." "Look back" - rememberance of what had been, preventing a sense of loss, final moment of joy. "Sarcophagus" - metaphor - coffin, the moment of passion is dead.

Narrative voice looks back upon a personal memory. Terects, consistent, rhythmic. 

IDEA: Had sex in a field, the imprint they've made on the grass - the landmark - looks like a coffin. 

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Happy Accidents

Robert Capa = photographer during WW2 for Life magazine, took photos of D-Day landings, many photographs damaged in printing process. 

War, Damage, Carelessness, Importance of the Past

"Lead" - density of bullets. Colloquial language "dropped" - sitting ducks, as though they are dispensable. Oxymoron "frozen fires." "Heat blurred" - blurred moral ground of warfare, no absolutes. "Stepped out" & "fall headlong" - cruel irony, the start of something new/love - it was all over so quickly. "Trapdoor" - leads to certain death. UNCONTROLLABLE PROCESS - like the way the soldiers feel with their lives at war. 

In medias res - dropped in like Capa was. Rhetorical Question. "Just shoot and shoot" - repetition linked to gun fire, like photography process. Reinvented sonnet form - 15 lines, 5 tercets = concise revealing. Three of the stanzas, are ways in which the events have produced something significant. INTERNAL RHYME - "shore" "trapdoor" "war."Opposite Landmark - both 15 line poems with the legacy of the past being an evident theme. 

IDEA: Damage can increase perfection. Hence "happy" accidents. 

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Four Movements in the Scale of Two

Have these in a symphony, separate stages that contribute to a whole, they each have different moods. - relationship presented as a symphony. Smoke signal = cry for help. 

Relationships, Passion, Sex, Destruction, Loss - the relationship deteriorates

"Foetus" - embryonic relationship. "X" - unknown/chromosome. "Still Life" - painting but also the continuation of the relationship. Delicate, gentle lexis in P2. Alliteration "texture" "tongue." Onomatopoeia - cracking close. Semantic field of art. "Steppe" "Siberian" - cold locations. Unsettling similie - ice and water - long term it will melt/become one. Sibilance "slow smoke signal" - reflects the way this damage has crept in, unnoticed by the speaker. Imagery of writing - "sentence of her spine" "blank pages."

IDEA: we only exist in the presence of others?? 

P3 = 3rd person. Isolated line "what breaks when this happens?" - RQ! Enjambment - relflects the opening of the book, and the smooth process in which the relationship 'snapped.' Tercets. Separated into 4 stages - like the symphony, each has a different mood hence the titles and their relevance to that stanza. 

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Liable to Floods

American troops stationed in Wales before the D Day landings. "Greenhorns" = slang for inexperienced troops. 

Displacement, Lack of Belonging, Isolation, War, Nature's strength - man's inteference

"Major" - authority and status, tries to defy nature - arrogance & disrespect. Condenscending "fatherly" "Don't you worry" - patronising, belittling nature's capabilities in comparison to mankind's. "Backbone" - resistence, spineless. Biblical undertones "for the next two days" - building up to the inevitable conclusion. Battle imagery - used for the weather - man's inteference in the natural world. "Cartridge" - relation to machine gun. "Ghosts" - foreshadowing of the loss of GIs to come in the D Day landings. "Herself" - femininity of nature, personified as a female. Farmer - represents the land itself.

IDEA: Nature is flushing out the infestation that is war from the landscape - rejection of the soldiers' purpose, suggesion that war isn't natural. Symbolic of the events the soliders are invloved in - war will sweep them away without a second thought. 

Quatrain, traditional regimented structure, reflects the military setting. NOT A TERCET - distance from Wales, sense they don't belong here!! Calm tone in final stanzas, reflection on inevitability. 

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Myth: Amazonian women had a breast removed to improve their skills with a bow therefore it's a symbol of strength. Jean Sheers - grandmother, had breast cancer. Nov 5th = Bonfire night. 

Sadness, Strength, Celebration, 

"Testing the water" - idea of seeing how bad it is. "Mote" = tiny particle in the air. Plosive Bs show the potential for harm. "Flowering with rubbish" - juxtaposition of life and death - new perspective at the beauty of life and the interwining of life with death? "cork" - he couldn't save her but he could save this. "Wrings its neck" - her proximity to death once. "Bump" = childlike, harmless, ironic as it's lifechanging. "Faceted" = multiple surfaces. 

IDEA: Growing stronger from her ordeal, her perception since cancer has changed. 

4 stanzas reflect the 4 stages of cancer, in chronological order as she moves throughout the year. P1 = tercets, P2 = couplets - breaking down of the diagnosis and her life as it is. P3 - return to tercets - normality. 

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Under the Superstition Mountains

Mountain Range in Arizona, entrance to the underworld. Susans House = music track that cuts between scenes/boy dying- all of what is wrong with society. Sun City West - 82% pop = >60. 91% pop = white. 

Death, Old age, Depression, Isolation?

Semantic Field of death. "Mock" - artificialty, sad. "Oxygen tank" - irony, expect a dog! Reflects LIFELESS society. "Sedated" - sense of inertia (doing nothing.) "Without knowing why" - meaninglessness!!

Tercets from vignettes - mini pictures of life. 

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The Fishmonger

Orginal = Fisherman, one stanza long, focuses on consumerism. Coincided with Hungary joining the Eu in 2004. 

Proffesion, Skill, Brutality, 

"Carp" - oilwater fish. Oxymoron "cruel kindness." "Pare his speech" - military lexis. "Tree hit by lightning" - DEAD inside - no love/passion for his work? But he's good at it, skillfull.


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The Singing Men

Homeless people of the world, drunks, vagrants - those who don't fit in society. "The world's greatest group" - reference to the Beatles. "Balham" - south London, historically a place where nothing happened, now hip. Male's role in society - 'lovers' 'kids' and 'wives.'

Isolation, Displacement, Detachment, Society,

Described like a rare species or universal phenomenon. "Valleys in their stubble" - singing with intensity, survival, the sing is pulling tendons in their neck. "Opera" and "Balham" - juxtapose, humourous. "Gold can" - colour but also connotes value - it's precious to him. "Legs open" - typicall masculine. Closer to primal state than civilisation. 

Repetition of humming - fading into background noise, like they do, off the radars of society. 10 unrhymed couplets - uneven lengths - reflecting mixed bag and dislocation. 

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Skirrid Fawr

Edge of Brecon Beacons, see Wales & Eng. Scoop soil legend - locals took this for good luck, sprinkled it on crops/coffins. "Holy Scar" - split by God's Grief. "Answers" - mountains legend, Mount Olympus - home of Greek Gods - seek answers. 

Nature, Beauty, Meaning, Division 

Female personification of Nature. Semantic field of writing/language. "cleft pallete" - Sheers had one. "East-west flanks" - refer to Eng. "Vernacular" = local language, colloquial. 

Free verse. Couplets. 

IDEA: Brings together ideas that have been presented across the collection. Subtle thematic/language links to various other poems. 

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Last Act

"Stuck record of my tongue" - perhaps referencing Sheers' stammer, sense of confessional intimacy - but we cannot guarantee autobiographical authenticity. Precursor to the collection, introductory poem - is this the final performance before the honesty of the other poems? May suggest the poems that follow are an intensely personal record of an unseen past.

Theatre = motif (Sheers wrote a play,) Exposure, Peformance, Intimacy, Speech & Language.

"Last Act" - in a play, coming to the end of a performance, ambigous title. Act = physical action, dramatic performance, false/deceptive behaviour? Personal poem. Informal register, confessional tone. "it has taken so long to show you these" - perhaps references the time period between the BB & SH. "Drawing back of the curtain" - revelation. "Show the parts we've played" - breaking the 'fourth' wall in the theatre, emphasises the conscious contruction of art - irony is that he is demonstrating the deconstruction of this through the construction of the poem. "Previous scenes stacked in the wings" - is this the other poems?

Juxtaposes the past and the present. Single stanza, unrhymed free verse (offers him freedom of linguistic expression.) Lengthier lines of performance vs shorter lines of the reality. Caesuras, enjambment. Shape of the poem - lines drawn back like gaps.

Unusual structural choice - to preface a collection with a poem, suggest this poem is key to understanding what follows. "Last" - putting an 'end' at the beginning!? Suggestion that this is the first genuine poetry he has written and that his was dissatisifed with the BB (which recieved a lot of criticism.) Role of actors in the collection becomes important, can be seen as the key to undestanding the collection. 

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Hedge School

Name for rural schools in Ireland, for those who weren't able to attend regular schools. Effectively for peasants. Also refers to how the natural enviroment is a place of education. Sheers spent some time at Heston Blumenthal's restaurant & he talked of the "mouth feel" of food. 

Coming of Age. Violence. Humans destroying nature. Personal Poem. LINKS: J.Jones, M.Wood, Border Country. 

"Mini bus" - childhood/education. "Tightly packed as a nervous heart" - capacity to burst, fullness. "Rain-bloated looseness" - unsavoury."Claret" = indicative of a sophisticated society. "cupped" "coiled" "black" "pearl" - popping constants like the bursting of a berry. "Fist" = violent, plosive b's in "bloodied as a butcher's." "How dark he runs inside" - representative of a child's capacity to turn towards evil.

Anecdotal Opening. Opens with an idyllic version of childhood. Free Verse - Stanzas offer alternative choices, measured pace. 

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The Equation

Focuses on the grandfather

New life, the importance of work, nature, 

"Soft afternoons" - contrasts the harsh environment associated with farming. "Hieroglyphics" - like another language. Semantic field of magic/performance. Organic/fluid action of the grain image. Magician similie - this process is amazing yet normal, miracle, and proves things cannot always be explained e.g. what came first the chiken or the egg? - not always logic & math. 

2 halves, balanced, symmetry - his rural life vs his job. Isolated last line, monoslyabic, suggests this is the pure essence of what drives him, it is of a higher importance.

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Drinking with Hitler

Leader of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association - a militant pressure group, history of violence & corruption. 1999 - Hunzi charged with embezzlement of 45 million Zimbabwe dollars from the WV funds. 2000 - Ammnesty International named Hunzi as a torturer. 2001 - he died of an AIDS related illness. Reflects Sheers' well travelled background. Hitler is his nickname. 

Toxic masculinity, male/female relationship, violence, power. Link to J.Jones (air dead with scent.)

"Like an aftershave" - intrusive, evocative, like he's asserting himself. Sense of his practised smile - metaphor of the CD, artificiality, drawing upon past behaviour. "Cauterised" - burning part of a body to remove or close off a part of it for curative purposes. Uneasy presence of the delicate woman. "Flourish of cards" - could be magician or business cards? Blink of her eye = only indication of disgust. 

Poem comprimises a vignette (character study.)This man leaves a lasting impression on the speaker, like the touch on the women's leg.

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Links to the industrial past of Wales, concept that you can't truly learn history from a book, you must get out there and experience it to get a sense of a nation's past. 

Legacy, connection to the landscape (Hill fort), welsh identity (flag, border c)

Still water runs deep - idea that there is many things going on beneath the surface. Prising the steel apart like a book is like looking into the land itself. "Pages" "Book" "Story" "Written" - His story. Idea that the history of the valley itself is linked to the people who occupy and occupied this environment. Repetition of "every" = powerful.

Direct mode of adress - use of 2nd person, instruction. Enjambment - reflects the passing of time. 2 line stanza - isolates & focuses on a small detail (internal rhyme with "drill" and "hill")

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East Coker - T.S. Eliot, Epigraph

  • Eliot = modernist playwright, poet & critic. Born in the USA but lived mostly in England. He draws on British poets as stylistic influences.
  • East Coker =  published in 1940, second of the poems in "Four Quartets" - themes of iconography & mythology, time vs eternity & natural order vs disorder. East Coker = a village in Somerset where Eliot's family once lived before his ancestors emigrated to the US, familial reference.
  • Epigraph - focuses on the commonality of the experience of ageing, hints at the themes of SH: passing of time, young & old, tensions between individuals & the world, alienation. Sense of awareness of mortality. It is the first of many references to T.S. Eliot in the collection.
  • Similarities ; Eliot & Sheers : Both lived as ex-pats, combining of cultures. Familial influences, landscape & human relations = motifs. Acknowledge the inspiration of great writers. 
  • Conventional to begin a poetry collection with an epigraph - links Sheers to Eliot - shows that depsite being a young poet he is knowledgable - establishing his identity as a serious poet.
  • "As we grow older/ the world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated/ of dead and living" L1 = youth/age, L2 = breakdown of society, L3 = mortality. Touches upon the important aspects of the collection.
  • Eliot suffered with writer's block - could reference why it has taken Sheers so long to write this
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