Category Archives: Part 2

Does language shape the way we perceive the world?

Since reflecting on my tutors comments on Part 2, I wanted to review some of the initials ideas I explored in various assignments, adding to my research and reflections (which was a bit thin).

One aspect Carla brought up, was on the printing press and the distribution of the Guttenberg Bible, one of the first books to be printed and mass-produced.  The question I had asked, but couldn’t find any proof of, what “how much has the Bible changed, since it was first written and during the time of Jesus (new and old testaments)?”

I did some research, and most sites I found were pro the existence of God and other church websites.  I didn’t find any academic papers to verify anything.  Lucky for me, my friend Matt, who is staying with us at the moment, is a scholar who studied in Jerusalem, and writes and read in ancient Aramaic. He is also gay, which wouldn’t matter, other than, one of the reasons he decided to study the ancient scrolls, was to find answers about how the church views same sex relationships.  His father is a pastor and was raised in an ultra religious fashion, it was a long time until he came out, but always felt so wrong being gay.

I asked him how much has the words changed in today’s or the Guttenberg Bible since the dead sea scrolls.  He said to my surprise, very little. The sect of Jews who were in charge of re-writing the scriptures did so in a very careful and sacred manner, being careful with every word.

It turns out I’ve been asking the wrong question.  I should ask, how has the TRANSLATION changed the original meaning?  Yes, that is a much better question.  The answer is, a lot.  For example, did you know there were Unicorns the Bible? The original translators didn’t know the word for an animal, so they called it a Unicorn.  So, if there are Unicorns in the Bible, what else has been translated differently.

As far as homosexuality is concerned, back in the day, when battles and war were common place,  some soldiers after battle, to show their dominance, would rape the men they fought against.  The Bible condemns this act, but perhaps it was misinterpreted as condemning sex between two men in any context?

There is also a question to whether temple prostitution has been misconstrued to support anti-gay and anti- lesbian opinions.

I found this on the Gay Christian 101 site after Matt told me about this

“In the extensive reading and research I’ve done on Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, no scholar I have read presents any biblical cultural doctrinal historical linguistic or religious proof that 1450 BC Israel had a problem with gay men and lesbians. As you will see in the quotes from conservative anti-gay scholars on this page, all of the evidence points to the truth that ancient Israel had a problem with shrine prostitution and shrine prostitutes and their pagan sexual worship of false gods.”

Translating languages has a far greater chance of misinterpreting truth and intentions, than mass producing words through the technological advancement of printing.

There is a myth that went the first explorers came to Australia, they pointed at a Kangaroo, and the aborigines said “kangaroo” which was later discover meant “I don’t know”.

This isn’t of course true, but it does highlight how easily language can be misinterpreted, not only meanings, but also intentions, and cultural difference. Body language also differs from nationalities, for example, what I thought meant maybe, a open palm giration of the hand side to side, means definitely NO in Vietnam.  As well as how you call someone over, I have waved at someone before, but made the downward hand-jester, which means, come hither, we were both quite confused.

Another question to ask is how does language shape the world we see?  An essay written by Lera Boroditsky explores this idea by looking at directions different cultures see time.  Latin based languages which are read left to right, see time moving in that direction, the same is with middle eastern language which read right to left, see time passing in the direction.  Lera looked at aboriginal communities whose language in based on environment location, north-east-south-west.  They saw time moving depending on what direction they were facing. Another interesting experiment was looking at different languages which uses genres.  Germain and Spanish languages attribute different male or female grammar to objects, for example a bridge is female in Spanish and male in German.  When each were asked to describe a bridge, the Germans said it was “hard,” “heavy,” “jagged,” “metal,” “serrated,” and “useful,” whereas Spanish speakers were more likely to say “golden,” “intricate,” “little,” “lovely,” “shiny,” and “tiny.”

Lera also says this when looking at art, which I thought was really interesting.

“In fact, you don’t even need to go into the lab to see these effects of language; you can see them with your own eyes in an art gallery. Look at some famous examples of personification in art — the ways in which abstract entities such as death, sin, victory, or time are given human form. How does an artist decide whether death, say, or time should be painted as a man or a woman? It turns out that in 85 percent of such personifications, whether a male or female figure is chosen is predicted by the grammatical gender of the word in the artist’s native language. So, for example, German painters are more likely to paint death as a man, whereas Russian painters are more likely to paint death as a woman”.

Lera Boroditsky, Edge, available at [10-5-17]


Part 2 – Reflections Tutor’s notes

CAT 2 Assignment report

Key points for improvement from Carla.

-it might be interesting to include some side research on your blog about the influence Wuthering Heights has had on other artists:

I Haven’t found any good sources on this

 -Have you been able to find any other writers’ responses to this text ( The Glass Essay) ?
Helen Rickerby writes:
“Some of the reasons why I love The Glass Essay so much are: the way the narrator’s story interviews so gorgeously with the life and work of Emily Bronte; the beautiful, spare language; the control the occasional wry trip of humour; the fact that it’s sometimes poetry-as-literary-criticism.”
Helen Riberby, Winged Ink, available at: [20-4-17].
Nicole writes
“All this is mixed in with anecdotes and musings on Emily Brontë, a woman with powerful emotions and plenty of sexual energy in her work, though she apparently knew nothing of men and hardly anything even of people outside her own family.”
Nicole, Bibliographing, available at [20-4-17].

-Be careful of minor typos in your blog



-This is a topic (the bible) which has been widely researched, and would be an excellent opportunity to demonstrate your point with an example.

I can find evidence that the invention of the printing press spread the word of Christ, further, and quicker, but I cannot find any interesting research about how the bible could have changed over-time to suit men or the church’s politics/views/discrimination/rights of women,gays etc… of the time.  This is perhaps more of a question, instead of a fact to be supported with research.  I will ask my friend who is fluent in ancient Aramaic.


-greater exploration of work by other practitioners and some more detailed research on the topics that interest you.
Yes, indeed
-As you have identified, research is a little lacking in your work for this part of the course, and I would recommend revisiting this at some point when you have time.
I’d like to do more research into how languages shape the way different nationalities view the world and what effect vocabulary has in human action and emotions.
I have done a lot of research when choosing the close reading work, but I didn’t write a blog post about this… in fact this is true in so many ways, I do a lot of work that I don’t blog about.  I need to improve on this.

about writing…

oops, I may have forgotten any research and reflections for part 2. This is partly because there was quite a lot of writing and reading involved, writing more, was missed.  So what do I have to write about, if it’s not close reading, or poetry, or a short story. I think writing can be a form of therapy, to make feelings real, by actualizing them in words.

So, there’s been this thing that has happened to me over and over in my life, when I change paths. Material belongings left behind are taken away, stolen or otherwise.

Being born in Canada, I escaped, or it felt at the time, when I was 20.  I traveled around NZ and Oz, and when I came back, I told my mom, I’d never live in Vancouver again.  I stayed around long enough to save enough money to leave.  This time to the UK.

A week or so after I left, I found out that the house I was raised in was broken into.  They had stolen the one precious thing, my memory box, a treasure chest my grandfather made for me.  It held every single letter, card, photograph, objects, that ever meant anything.  A link to my childhood.

Of course I had the normal things, like bags and phones stolen, that’s not unusual.

I lived in Brighton for about a dozen years. Around year 5, I moved into the most beautiful 1960’s mark 1 Ford Transit, gypsy wagon.  It was called Lyscargo.. Lys is my nickname, and I was the cargo, as well as LYS – CAR – GO! And it did look a lot like a French snail. I moved into a house, as you do, after a few cold winters, and a friend of a friend, asked to rent her. He worked on movie sets.  I thought it was a good way to recoup some of the money it cost putting her through an especially expensive M.O.T  The thing was, he just never returned her, but actually stole my van, saying each week he’d pay me money to keep her. He even had the nerve to take her to Glastonbury, the same time I was there.  He did eventually give it back, without ever giving me a cent, when the M.O.T ran out.  By this time, my heart hurt so much, I sold her, for a pittance. I know I could have called the police, but hindsight, eh?

The reason I am writing this, is a few weeks ago it happened again.  When Ben and I moved to Vietnam, we had very little money, very little borrowed money.  We wanted to ship our most important things, knowing that storage, over the year, would cost more than shipping.  We decided to bring all of our books, framed photographs, kitchen wear, and bed linen, as well as our summer wardrobe.

Behind we left our winter clothes, our push bikes, Ben’s carpentry tools, my ceramic studio equipment, bell tent, sheep skins, rugs, blankets etc… imagine a 9 square meters of stuff…

You know where this is going..

Yup, all thrown out.  We were storing everything in plastic sealed containers under the cake shop I helped open 6 years ago.  It was out-of-the-way, out of sight, and what I thought safe.

That was until my friend and owner of the shop, forgot it was there, and hired a removals company to clear all the storage spaces, because of a fruit fly problem.

Most of it, I can forgive, but I just can’t get over loosing one thing. My mother’s poncho.  She wore it in the 60’s and it was my favourite thing in the world.  I loved it so much, I can’t actually get over the realization it is gone. I forgot until yesterday it was there, when I was looking through old festival photographs.  It hit me so hard.


It’s not only the objects, but it’s what they represent.  A time in my life when I had friends on every corner, friends I had made 10 years previously. I associate my life with objects, they are not just fibers, they are memories.  So people hang on to letters written, some onto photographs, I hang on to clothes.

I’m not sure if writing this has helped or not, but at least it makes the lost feel more accounted for.

What are these lessons I am meant to learn about pocessions, past, and letting go? Is it, to have a more complete life in Vietnam, I shouldn’t be longing for my old one? Or is it, I should be embracing a future. The only problem is, as far as objects are found, there are no charity shops, antique stores, or car boot sales here.  All of my things are OLD, vintage, one of a kind pieces, collected over a dozen of years of searching. They cannot be replaced, and I feel sour.

I feel sour, and angry at perhaps my closest friend, both are so negative, but I don’t know how to look past this.  They emotions are filled with knowledge of how lucky I am to have everything I do.  I’m sure there are some go proverbs on letting go of materials, but I’m obviously not there spiritually.


Reflections on Assignment 2

With an endless bounty of collected words, re-assembled, composed, and sung, the world of literature is an overwhelmingly vast library of joy, sorrow, remembrance, and discovery. In this assignment, we were asked to touch upon a tiny group of phrases, but to look closely.  The most challenging task was in choosing a portion, of an entirely lovely poem. How can you show a whole story through a segment?  Looking back on Cormac McCarthy’s 120 words of the The Road, I realized how much could be said, with so few words.

I choose the Glass Essay, after much deliberation, because of the structure and point of view. It’s a frame story, with three points of view, told by three writers, two of which existed in the late 19th century.  It explored the idea of time and place well.  The Moors and the theme of heartbreak remained, as time changed.  Reading it like a time-lapse video, where the characters changed, but each are fated to read the story of Wuthering Heights, relating Emily Bronte’s words to their own heartbreak. I find it so intriguing thinking back to when Emily wrote the words to Wuthering Heights, could she imagine how many people would dissect them, and re-use them, over and over again.. or listen to Kate Bush’s song, or perhaps, even organize a flash mob on in Brighton.

I love the poetic devises Carson used, especially her metaphors such as “A chill fragment of moon rose.” In just six beautiful words she sets a tangible atmosphere which is cold, dark, and empty. By limiting the amount of words you can explore, forces you to look more sympathetically, feeling more than you’d otherwise, by just reading. I have developed a better appreciation for words and writers. I love reading, but find, I need to re-read until the words find the correct channels in my brain.  Sometimes, words soak in so absorbingly, otherwise, they are like wax.  For me, music has always been my link to words, perhaps it is easier. There’s something intimidating about opening a page, the fear that perhaps you won’t get it, or not like it. How can you enjoy something you don’t understand?

Writing opens up a whole new set of fears.  To put yourself forward, your vulnerabilities onto paper, creatively, is very challenging.  Writing in my learning blog is easier, because I know myself, my tutor, and the assessors, are amongst the only ones to read this.  Imagine publishing a piece, for everyone to dissect. I suppose you can be a good writer, who writes nonsense, or you could be a bad writer, who write about truth and life. I don’t believe you need to use big words to demonstrate your skill in language, it’s about how you communicate your words, so they are easily understood, your intentions received with ease, the story imagined in pictures, which can be re-told by many.

Living abroad, in Vietnam, has shown me a new appreciation for the English language.  Vietnamese has a very limited vocabulary, especially adjectives. There are almost one million words in English, perhaps this gives us a better insight into the world through words.  Stephen Fry says this about the English language.

The English language is like London: proudly barbaric yet deeply civilised, too, common yet royal, vulgar yet processional, sacred yet profane.

The history of each word, creates anew, each time it is writen.

Assignment 2

A woman in a fiery, flowing red dress dances gracefully on top of the stone-cold, grey, wind-blown moors. She is wild; she is alluring; she is free.  Her words are piercing as she sings:

“Heathcliff, it’s me, Cathy
Come home, I’m so cold!
Let me in-a-your window”

Her body and the words move as one, encompassing desire, love, and loss. That red dress — I will never forget that red dress — worn with red tights and red shoes, garnished with that ebony black satin belt.

That woman is Kate Bush performing her music video for the song, “Wuthering Heights.” These two words alone — Wuthering Heights — conjure up so many emotions. Two words alone transport me to a place I can see and understand.

Although I have never read the book by Emily Bronte, the epic 30-page poem, “The Glass Essay” by Anne Carson, draws me in.  It starts off with “I” (the author), and then refers to “She” (her mother), who lives on the Moors. “I” (the author) returns to her mother’s home, after failing to recover from the devastating end of a five-year relationship with Law.  On the train, with help from The Collected Works Of Emily Brontë  in hand, she faces the challenges of coming home and being alone.

This work is a “frame” piece of literature, a story within a story. Just as I am doing a close reading of Anne Carson’s words, she is doing the same with Emily Brontë’s words, or even her sister’s, Charlotte Brontë’s, diary notes, written about Emily. That makes three layers of secondary sources, all dissecting Emily’s words.  All except me, lived on the moors, so they transcend time, with ‘place’ being the constant.

Here is the excerpt I have chosen from the poem as my close reading.

… Charlotte concludes, “On herself she had no pity.”

Pitiless too are the Heights, which Emily called Wuthering
because of their “bracing ventilation”
and “a north wind over the edge.”
Whaching a north wind grind the moor
that surrounded her father’s house on every side,
formed of a kind of rock called millstone grit,
taught Emily all she knew about love and its necessities—
an angry education that shapes the way her characters
use one another. “My love for Heathcliff,” says Catherine,
“resembles the eternal rocks beneath
a source of little visible delight, but necessary.”
Necessary? I notice the sun has dimmed
and the afternoon air sharpening.
I turn and start to recross the moor towards home.
What are the imperatives
that hold people like Catherine and Heathcliff
together and apart, like pores blown into hot rock
and then stranded out of reach
of one another when it hardens? What kind of necessity is that?
The last time I saw Law was a black night in September.
Autumn had begun,
my knees were cold inside my clothes.
A chill fragment of moon rose.
He stood in my living room and spoke
without looking at me. Not enough spin on it,
he said of our five years of love.
Inside my chest I felt my heart snap into two pieces
which floated apart. By now I was so cold
it was like burning….

In response to the close reading of this piece, I will interpret the themes whilst looking at the structure, character, point of view, language, and idea of time and place.

First, the structure of this epic poem is broken down into categories: I, She, Three, Whaching, Kitchen, Liberty, Hot, Thou. The section of this poem I have chosen is Whaching. The poem is then divided into 3-line stanzas, yet most of them are connected by unfinished sentences. There is a constant rhythm or beat, which is fluid. Although it does not rhyme, it creates a connectivity of thoughts, actions, and words spoken.

Second, the main characters in this poem are “I” as the protagonist and the narrator, Emily Bronte as the mentor, and Law (or love) as the enemy. The other characters which are not in this excerpt are “She” as the mother and antagonist and her dad as the hero. In this section of the poem the reader also encounters Catherine and Heathcliff, two fictional characters from another book, Wuthering Heights, whom the reader may already know. Because the main character is written in the first person, the reader feels part of her journey: one feels empathetic when reading “I” over and over again.

Third, the point of view in this poem is the most interesting aspect.  Because it is a frame story, we  see the point of view of three authors: “I”,  Emily Bronte, and Charlotte Bronte. The notes at the end of The Collected Works Of Emily Brontë  were written by Charlotte Bronte, a famous author in her own right, known for such works as Jane Eyre. Carson writes:

My favourite pages
of The Collected Works Of Emily Brontë
are the notes at the back

“I” knew that the north wind that surrounded her (Emily’s) father’s house on the moors taught Emily all she knew about love and it necessities, as her sister Charlotte stated in her diary. Charlotte explains how Emily had no friends, nor lovers, nor pity. Emily lived isolated, imprisoned by herself. Carson writes:

Her anger is a puzzle.
It raises many questions in me,
to see love treated with such cold and knowing contempt

by someone who rarely left home
“except to go to church or take a walk on the hills”
(Charlotte tells us)

The phrase, The necessity of love resembles an eternal rock of little  visible delight, demonstrates Emily’s contempt for love, which was brought on by the “whaching” others.
The language used speaks clearly of time past.  The word “whaching” was invented by Emily to describe the way she saw others, a different way of seeing, perhaps a literary device used in the 1800’s or perhaps earlier. It could almost be Shakespearean. How did Emily know so much about love, with so little experience?  In this word “whaching” we understand how. Carson writes:

Emily’s habitual spelling of this word,
has caused confusion….

Whacher is what she was.
She whached God and humans and moor wind and open night.
She whached eyes, stars, inside, outside, actual weather.

She whached the bars of time, which broke.
She whached the poor core of the world,
wide open.

Fourth, the literary devices used by Carson include imagery, repetition, and parallelism. The idea of  cold and wind are widely used: “bracing ventilation”, “air sharpening”, “a north wind grind”, and “A chill fragment of moon” all demonstrate cold forces which are unsettling and uncomfortable.  The repetition of “necessity and necessary” represents an unhealthy desire or need. The metaphor, “like pores blown into hot rock and then stranded out of reach of one another when it hardens”, speaks of the division of lovers, unable to rectify their difference, cold, hard, and alone. “I” speaks of her own heart, Inside my chest I felt my heart snap into two pieces which floated apart. By now I was so cold it was like burning.” Carson draws parallels between Catherine and Heathcliff on the one hand and “I” and Law on the other, as well as with the cold wind and the moors.

Fifth, by using these literary devices, she bridges time and place. The references to time and place include the moors, not only the ones that “I’ is walking over towards home but also the ones where Emily’s father lived in the early 1800’s and where the story of Wuthering Heights took place, spanning over 200 years of time. Carson’s depiction of the moors is rocky, cold, dark, and windy.  The moors have not changed since Emily’s time; they are still the same, the weather, the cliffs, the hills, the wind and trees. “I” can imagine Emily or Catherine walking through the same scene: all three worlds are tangible through words and in life. In the words of Thomas Hardy, when referencing the book Place by Tacita Dean and Jeremy Millar, to belong to a place is toknow all about those invisible ones of the days gone by, whose feet traversed the fields.”

Carson has the gift, the talent, of bringing up many feelings that the reader may already hold by referencing another story within her poem. By doing so, she speaks in volumes about the cold wind that takes love away, set upon a foundation of rocks, unstable, and lonely. Like the song by Kate Bush, we can all relate to the classic devastation of lost love, which is relevant in any age. Escaping through books and poetry — finding common ground by relating to an author’s words — is a coping mechanism widely used, throughout the years, to better understand our own lives. T.S Elliot said this about “Tradition and the Individual Talent”: “The poet’s mind is in fact a receptacle for seizing and storing up numberless feelings, phrases, images, which remain there until all the particles which can unite to form a new compound are present together.”

Carson composes this epic poem with ease and grace, embracing the feelings of old in Emily Bronte’s literature and relating them to the present day, not only accrediting her words but also imparting new meaning in today’s light. She collects feelings and images as components within her phrases to create a modern day Wuthering Heights.


The Glass Essay -Anne Carson, Poetry Foundation Available at [Accessed Feb 22’17]

Tacita Dean and Jeremy Millar, 2005, Place, Thames & Hudson

T. S. Elliot – Tradition and the Individual Talent,, Available at [Accessed March 12’17]

Exercise 1 & 2 – The Road by Cormac McCarthy

“He pushed the cart and both he and the boy carried knapsacks. In the knapsacks were essential things in case they had to abandon the cart and make a run for it. Clamped to the handle of the cart was a chrome motorcycle mirror that he used to watch the road behind them. He shifted the pack higher on his shoulders and looked out over the wasted country. The road was empty. Below in the little valley the still grey serpentine of a river. Motionless and precise. Along the shore a burden of dead reeds. Are you okay? He said. The boy nodded. They set out along the blacktop in the gunmetal light, shuffling through the ash, each the other’s world entire.”  

Extract (p.6) from The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Re-write a few lines of the extract using different types of narrator:

  • First person narratorI pushed the cart and the boy carried the knapsack. In the knapsack we essential things in case we had to abandon the cart and make a run for it. Clamped to the handle of the cart was a chrome motorcycle mirror that I used to watch the road behind them. I shifted the pack higher on my shoulders and looked out over the wasted country. The road was empty. Below in the little valley the still grey serpentine of a river.
  • Second person – as if you were the man (You pushed the cart…)Along the shore a burden of dead reeds. Are you okay? I said. You nodded. We set out along the blacktop in the gunmetal light, shuffling through the ash, you and I, each the other’s world entire.


If McCarthy had chosen the third person limited point of view, think about the difference between telling this story from the boy’s POV or the man’s.

The third person limited point of view would know such details such as ‘each the other’s world entire.”  The mystery would be lost if it was from the boy or man’s POV. It would be clearer to what their relationship is, of perhaps it would feel more emotional, instead of feeling cold, like looking onto strangers.

What impact does changing the narrative angle have on the story? Why do you think McCarthy decided to use an omniscient narrator?

The narrative angle, from the man, or boy, instead of omniscient, would both be different from each other. The man  vs the boy would evoke different emotional responses, the child being more innocent, the man being more experienced.


 ‘He’, the man, and ‘the boy’ are nameless. Why? Does their anonymity change the way we feel about the characters? Can we still care about them without names? Do they still have an identity without a name?

I think you care less for the characters although the intrigue is greater. The author perhaps entices you to be either character, to imagine yourself in each other their shoes. Their identity could be your own choosing.

How can we tell they’re in danger? Are they fleeing danger or do they expect to encounter it along the way? What sort of danger? Human? Animal? Elemental?

‘in case they had to abandon the cart and make a run for it’,

‘watch the road behind them’,

‘shuffling through the ash’

All the above speak of danger, it is clear. They have their bags packed and are moving forward which implies fleeing.  There are ashes, they are walking through wasted country, so it could be a natural disaster, or human, or animal, it’s not clear.

The chrome motorcycle mirror tells us the time is roughly contemporary. So what’s happened to the rest of the recognisable contemporary world? Or is the story set in the future? Post-apocalypse maybe?

It could be all of the above.

They are alone: ‘The road was empty.’ Where is everyone? Why are they scared if no one is around? Because no one is around? Because someone might be around?

Who knows?

There’s been some sort of disaster: ‘wasted country… dead reeds … shuffling through the ash …What sort of disaster might it be?


They’re on a journey with everything they own. Where are they going? Where have they come from?

Who can say?

The road is mentioned three times in these few lines. It is also the title of the book. What does it symbolise?

The road symbolises escape, hope, freedom, life.

Can you spot any poetic devices in this short passage? What effect do they have?

  1. a burden of dead reeds – Metaphor
  2. gunmetal light – Metaphor
  3. serpentine of a river – Personification (snake)

All describe the scene, dark, and dangerous.

What other stylistic language choices does McCarthy make and why? Why might he not punctuate speech?

Without punctuating speech, you do not hear the voices of the characters in your head, you feel distanced from them, looking down from above, like someone else in translating the situation for you.

What features give us a sense of where we are? How does McCarthy create a post- apocalyptic world? Would the impact be the same if he were to remove the man and the boy? Look carefully at the imagery, for example the grey ‘serpentine of the river’ and ‘the gunmetal light’. What is it about the choice of metaphor that creates a sense of danger? What does the serpentine symbolise? Think biblical perhaps. What effect will biblical and religious imagery, themes and symbols have in this genre of writing?

Answered above.

Snake in religion represents evil.

What’s the prose style like? Are the sentences long or short? Are they rhythmic or choppy or stark? What impact does this have? Is the language complex or simple? Often the more dramatic or dark a piece is, the more simple and stripped back the prose. Why might this be? What would be the effect of more flowing, colourful and detailed prose?

Really short uniform sentences which flow. The vocabulary is stalk but beautiful. You don’t have to re-read it many time to understand what is going on.

How does it all make you feel?

I makes me feel quite worried for the two of them… concerned about what may happen next.


Ex. 2 – Ways of saying and seeing

This Be The Verse

By Philip Larkin

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.               Repetition  They
    They may not mean to, but they do.               Metaphor  They filled you with faults
They fill you with the faults they had                 Rhyme  dad and had, you and do
    And add some extra, just for you.                    Rhythm same amount of syllable
But they were fucked up in their turn
    By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
    And half at one another’s throats.                 Assonance And half a one another’s throats
Man hands on misery to man.
    It deepens like a coastal shelf.                        Simile – it deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
    And don’t have any kids yourself.
Philip Larkin, "This Be the Verse" from Collected Poems. Copyright © Estate of Philip Larkin.  Reprinted by permission of Faber and Faber, Ltd.
Source: Collected Poems (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2001)

As I walked out one Midsummer Morning – Laurie Lee

High sulky summer sucked me towards it – Alliteration

The day’s silence said ‘go where you will, it’s all yours – Personification

Shafts of sun from the windows falling across the familiar furniture – Alliteration

Waist-deep in the grass caught there like a piece of sheeps wool. –Simile

The Wylye Valley.. looks as though it had been cropped by Mammoths  – Simile

The misty cathedral, still prince of the horizon – Personification

Juggling handfulls of bells like coins – Simile

It was green, and heaved gently like the skin of a frog, and carried drowsy little sheep like flies. – Simile

It appeared to be a huge hypnotic blank, putting everything to sleep that touched it – Metaphor

The smell of stale sea shells – Alliteration

Summer storms sliding in front of the water like sheet of dirty glass – Alliteration & Simile


…Giving poetry a little go, by trying a few devices.



Spoilt are the children who’ve know not war
Trivial is the adversity that once challenges bore

Not that bothered by other lives lived
For what is the point, the now is all is.

Isolated in comfort, dislocated from fear,
The fairness in their eyes
Cannot see
The contractions outside

Small worlds, small streets, small malls, small screens.
A cushion, a pill, a like, a new dream.
To be the most popular, haven’t you seen.

I won’t use my hand except for my thumbs
Why should I make, when plastic succumbs
Dexterity is lost, traditions un-ravelled
What is the point, totally un-baffled

Exercise 3 -close reading of Fern Hill by Dylan Thomas.

Fern Hill by Dylan Thomas

  • What’s the mood of the poem? How does it make you feel?

It is reminiscent of childhood, with a light golden mood, full of life and memories steeped in the beauty of nature. It makes me yearn for my childhood under stars, and next to the ocean, running free, next to the pacific ocean.

  • What poetic devices does Thomas use and what effect do they have on the poem? Use the list above to help you.

Google doc.

  • How do the poetic devices help evoke the themes of time and place? Can you identify any other theme running through this poem?


The metaphors and similes, and alliterations are all based on nature, on the surroundings.

The idea of time

  1. The poem starts with “Now as I was young”
  2. Time gave allowance to experience “Time let me hail and climb” , “Time let me play and be.”
  3. Endless days and endless nights night “In the sun born over and over”, “In the moon that is always rising”
  • What is the poem is saying about time and place (and any other theme you’ve identified)?

It speak of the freedom of childhood, experienced in nature “In the sun that is young once only.”

  • What lines or images stay with you? What do they remind you of or how do they make you feel?

I love the references to the sun and the moon, and the stars he encompasses the joy of a childhood into one day, or one summer, when time did not matter, or exist.. and the memories are worth a lifetime of experiences.

  • What’s the rhythm like? Is it choppy or is it flowing and smooth? How does the rhythm impact on the poem?

Very smooth, lyrical, and calm. Like the summer’s day he describes, “the rivers of the windfall light.”

  • Is the ‘speaker’ important? What are his views? Are they apparent or inferred?

Thomas speak from obvious childhood, first hand experience. The speaker’s apparent love for days/nights spent in nature, alone, are based on memories which are totally vivid, and alive.

  • Are there any lines you don’t get? Can you hazard a guess as to what they mean or allude to?



The last lines:

“Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,

Time held me green and dying

Though I sang in my chains like the sea.”

The rest of the poem is light, and beautiful, whereas these last few lined are dark and omniscient. I’m not sure what singing in chains like the sea, it feels like a contradiction, how can the sea be chained? I imagine Thomas is regretful of the inevitability of getting older, and loosing such freedoms through the constrains of responsibilities.

Exercise 2 – Project 2, Part 2

Exercise 2 – Archetypes  // The Simpsons

  •  Examples of character archetypes / example for each from an existing story & function
  1. the mother figure / MargeComforting
  2. protagonist / HomerLikeable
  3. antagonist / Mr. BurnsDis-likeable
  4. side kick / Mr. SmithersObeying
  5. the bully / NelsonCreates conflict
  6. the ultra good guy / FlandersReligious aspects
  7. the square / Millhouselight heartiness
  8. the  non-white guy / CarlGlobal appeal
  9. the wise guy / BartComedy value
  10. the drunk / Barneydemonstrates vices
  11. the know it all / LisaSolves problems
  12. the shape-shifter / Maggie (good or evil?) – Internal struggle

A Short Story inspired by real event…

She lays restlessly looking up at an unfamiliar ceiling, the water stains create inkblot images which she can’t quite decipher. She’s uncomfortable, scared (although she won’t admit it) and far away from home.  There’s a light blinking outside window creating an outline of the Douglas fur tree, silhouette on the wall.  She thinks back to the poltergeist film she once saw. There’s a distant hum which grows louder until the vibrations can be felt.  Motorbikes. She bolts upright, but freezes in fear.  The man asleep next to her, not a stranger, but not a long term lover either, rolls over.  They’ve been together for a couple of months, but she is unsure of how he will react if she wakes him.  She whispers gently, “Jeff, Jeff, motorbikes, they sound like Harley’s.” Jeff opens his eyes, shoves her away from his face, and runs to the window. The sounds disappears gently into the wind. “What the fuck Jem, you scared the shit out of me,” he says, and he gets back into bed, pulling most the covers and he rolls away from her. She lays cold and ashamed of being scared.

How did she get here? A psychologist would probably say it all started with her father. Her mom was force, or some would call it, raped, soon after her older brother’s first birthday, that is how she was conceived. Her mom was only 18, and had tried to leave the relationship for more than 2 years, almost as soon as it started. Jem’s dad was a ‘mullet haired roid monkey’ with brothers and sisters strewn across america, for his dad was an unfaithful trucker. Somehow, he ended up in a suburb in the unfashionable end of Vancouver. She final left him when Jem was 1, and, because of the violent acts which followed, he was forced to flee to LA, instead of being put in prison.

People who think Vancouver is safe, drug, gun and gang-free, have never lived there. It’s actually terrifying how normal acts of violence, shootings, child abuse, and murders are. Behind a veil of giant pine trees, lie organised, money and pride filled hate groups; biker gangs, drug gangs, ethnic gangs, who all think, they’re fucking straight out of Compton. Young lives become sucked in to this tornado self-rightiousness.

Jem’s mom came from a solid, supporting family, so why did she choose such a man?  But then again, Jem’s mom raised her the same way, perhaps more as a friend, but still, with a lot of love. She even has a tattoo on her arm, numbers- her mom’s birthday.  Jem had left her ex-boyfriend in hopes this guy would be different, but couldn’t she see, they were all like her dad. No wonder everything felt so unfair?

She checks Instagram, and feels better, twenty new likes, that picture in the blue dress which shows off her back tattoo. Slowly, she falls back to sleep, bathing in the superficial love which is social media.

When she wakes, Jeff is not there.  Embarrassed, she puts on her UGGS and his sweater, and goes looking for him.  He could have woken her up. She finds him in the kitchen, the stale smell of beer bottles laden with cigarette butts everywhere, makes her miss the smell of coffee in her mom’s home. She feels so out of place, what is she even doing here?  He doesn’t even look up, instead he’s joking around with the guys, still up from the night before, about how Jem thought the Hell’s Angel’s had found them last night.  They all look up at her and laugh. She goes back upstairs, and picks up her phone, but who can she call? Instead she checks instagram again.

She travelled 2000 miles to escape with Jeff, who had stolen drugs off the bikers, and now had a price on his head.  It used to be fun, being in this movie, she thought, but reality was beginning to hit. It’s not fair, she thought over again. She begins to think about everyone she could blame.  Her mom. Her mom, yes, she totally over reacted, but then, started to tell everyone, like she didn’t know how serious this was. And, she didn’t even offer to give her any money, that shows how much she cares. She wondered if her grandma had known, a women who lent her money to buy her first car, and was always there to talk to, about everything. A little pang of guilt struck, shit I still owe her money, she thought. She stuffed that feeling away, to focus on the fact that she was the victim here, it wasn’t her fault the police had taken away her licence, it was the fucked up system, that was the problem.  Anyway, she would have paid her back , if it wasn’t for loosing her job at the car dealership. They wouldn’t give her the 3 weeks off like she wanted, she had to quit.

After justifying all of her past decisions, she put on her makeup, knowing if would make Jeff look at her admiringly. Phone in hand gave her comfort, and a strength over took her to go straight into the kitchen and act like nothing happened. As soon as she made it to the landing, she heard a bang on the door, and the sound of the back door window being smashed.  She stood still for a moment, and made a quick decision. Upstair, window, tree,.. run!

When she got to the room, she was so thankful her backpack was full, just one thing to grab, her makeup case.  Thankfully she found her mittens on the top, they’d help protect her nails, and keep her hands warm of course.  Very ungracefully she scuttled down the tree, keeping an eye on the front door.  Thankfully there was a hedge a few feet from the bottom, she could run into, and out of the other side, she hoped.  She made it the other side and tidied up her hair and then checked the coast was clear.  She never really ran before, she never really had to, her body was perfect. Change of plan she thought, she’d hide from hedge to hedge, until she found a bus stop.

All of a sudden, on the other side of the road, a big yellow bus went past. She trots after it but can’t keep up. She notes where it stops, and is relieved, until she realises she has no money on her.  As she approaches the bus stop, she notices another girl, about her same age walking towards her.  She was wearing biker boots with lacy socks, cut off tights under jean shorts. On top, she wore layers of knit wear and an army jacket. Her hair was a shade of pink, but so light, not to be offensive. Although she wore no makeup, she was still pretty.

They waited quietly next to each other for the bus, until the girl next to her said, “I’m sorry to ask, but are you alright?”  Totally taken aback, Jem answered defensively, ‘Yah?” with a duh-like expression.  The girl stood a little bit closer, and said “ what bus you waiting for?’ Because it was such a normal question, and Jem’s life these last few days were so confusing, she couldn’t answer, but instead started hyperventilating.  Instinctively, the girl Kate, took Jem in her arms. She helped her regain her breath by saying words like “breath in through your nose, and let your stomach expand, think only about you breath, filling up your lungs, and let everything out, with a long exhale.” A weird calmness came over Jem, and although it felt like some hippy shit, she was comforted and thankful.

The bus went by and they stood there together. Jem was confused as to why she didn’t get on the bus. Why did she care about her, she didn’t even know her. Jem stood up, straight, and although thankful, she felt weirded out about receiving help from a stranger. She said thank you, and started to walk off.  Kate started after her, and Jem just turned around and said “I haven’t even got money for the bus anyways,” feeling sorry for herself again. Another one bus was behind it.

Kate chuckles kindly, and yells after her, “Oi, idiot, i’ll give you a dollar, you can pay be back latter.” The word ‘idiot’ wasn’t said in a hurtful way, as she was used to, but in jest, like they were already friends. Jem smiled to herself and turned around and got on. The bus was going into the city.  Jem had never spent much time in cities, she was more comfortable in malls, where she knew where to go.  “Where are you going?” she says to Kate. “To work, well it’s kind of work, me and a couple of friends opened a cafe, you wanna come?” Jem was hesitant again, thinking of excuses, when Kate pipes up “c’mon, you’ll love it, I make the best flat white.”  Jem had no idea what a flat white was, but decided it was a warm place to hide out.

As soon as she walked in, Kate had stopped to introduce her to all her friends, who’s faces were either in a Mac, or were sitting around the fire reading books.  She had a quick desire to take out her phone, but then, didn’t.  Everyone who she had met stopped what they were doing a looked straight into her eyes, and smiled. Jem had never experienced anyone taking the time to meet her.  Kate went around the bar, and Jem thoughts it best to find a single stool.  The coffee smelt great, and there was a buzz of conversation all around her, she couldn’t help but listen in. People were engaging in a way she had never seen, or rather, never noticed.

Kate made her a flat white, which had such a beautiful pattern on the top, she almost didn’t want to ruin it, by drinking . All through out the day, people approached her with kind questions, about how did she like the music, had she been there before, and if she wanted to try some cake that was just made.  Slowly, Jem’s apprehension of the people, who all looked so different and unique, slowly dissipated, although, she couldn’t believe that people could be this genuine.

Afternoon turned to evening, and someone handed her a beer. It tasted so good. She looked up, and couldn’t figure out who had been so kind. Next to the fire, a girl with dark hair and red plastic earrings, was wearing an old fashioned dress that made her think about Paris, although she knew nothing about the place, picked up her guitar and started to sing. She explained that they were old Irish folk songs. Her voice rang like an angle’s charm, high but clear, she listened to every word. She started a new song, a bit like the last, but the lyrics were different, more modern. It started the same way folks songs start “there once was a girl…..” but this time is was a story about pride.  The girl had be given everything, but vanity and ignorance prevented her from seeing, the importance of life’s gifts, to give and to love.” Life is not about taking, it’s about what you can give.

Could she have been this girl? Was she in fact the one who’d been given the gifts and swindled them away, because they were never good enough for her?” She looked around herself, and noticed how much everyone had given to her, not only Kate, but everyone there who welcomed her, instead of talking about her behind her back.

She checked her phone, and saw 15 missed calls from Jeff. This scared her more than the events of the morning. What will happen when he finds out where I’ve gone, and the people who I’m with? He’d make fun of me for hanging out with these hippies. Her second thought, was, at least he’s not dead.  It surprised her that, that was the first time she had thought about him all day.  Maybe she didn’t love him as much as she thought. She didn’t want to leave the cafe, she wanted to stay and hear more music. She decided it was best to let him know she was safe, so she texted him to say she was ok.

Kate had finished her shift and pulled up a seat next to her. Jem couldn’t help herself, she had to tell Kate the whole story.  Kate listened to every word Jem said, without interruption, except for the occasional, shit-fuck-and no way! When she was done, Kate didn’t hesitate, but instead took her to the quiet garden in the back, where she took Gem’s phone and told her to phone her mom. She held Jem’s hand and listened to a stream of apologies that made her want to hit her and hug her all at the same time.

Jem was back to Vancouver the next day, tail between her knees, but keen to get out of the suburbs and into the city, where she may find a cafe like the one in Toronto.  There are good people out there, ones who are not concerned with looks, other than looking like themselves. It shifted the way she felt about herself, a value which she had never considered until now.  There was more to her, more than working in a nail bar, more than instagram, more than any guy had made here feel.

Years later, in her loft apartment, she looks out her window and see a girl walk back and forth, not sure what direction to walk.  She puts on her UGGS and walks out the door and asks the girl if she’s OK?