AQA GCSE Anthology
Summer, and the long gra** is a snare drum.
The air hums with jets.
Down at the end of the meadow,
far from the radio's terrible news,
we cut the hay. All afternoon
its wave breaks before the tractor blade.
Over the hedge our neighbour travels his field
in a cloud of lime, drifting our land
with a chance gift of sweetne**.
The child comes running through the killed flowers,
his hands a nest of quivering mouse,
its black eyes two sparks burning.
We know we ought to finish it off.
It curls in agony big as itself
and the star goes out in its eye.
Summer in Europe, the field's hurt,
and the children kneel in long gra**,
staring at what we have crushed.
Before day's done the field lies bleeding,
the dusk garden inhabited by the saved, voles,
frogs, a nest of mice. The wrong that woke
from a rumour of pain won't heal,
and we can't face the newspapers.
All night I dream the children dance in gra**
their bones brittle as mouse-ribs, the air stammering with gunfire, my neighbour turned
stranger, wounding my land with stones.
Summary: Gillian Clarke remembers a summer's day in a meadow when an injured mouse is killed and compares this to the war in Yugoslavia.
Language: Summer, gra**, snare, hums, jets - the repetition of 's' sounds represents the summer breeze in the meadow and helps to set the scene; peaceful and idyllic.
Summer, hums, drums - a**onance, also helps to set the scene. Sound like humming. Sounds you might hear in a field on a summery day. The effect of setting the scene transports the reader back into the memories of Clarke.
Present tense - she is reliving the memory and war is ever present.
Words related to torture and pain - cut, breaks, killed, burning, agony, hurt, crushed, bleeding, pain, bones, gunfire, wounding - draws parallels with the conflict that is happening in the outside world while they are detached from it in the meadow.
Hidden me**age - humans can cause so much suffering even in something as innocent and mundane as cutting hay. Horrible consequences can come about without ever having the intention or knowledge. Peaceful activity can still be destructive.
The events in the meadow are connected to the events…