In this poem analysis I am studying three poems by Sheenagh Pugh in the earth studies trilogy. The titles are, ‘The Craft I Left in was Called Esau’, ‘Do You Think We’ll Ever get to See Earth Sir? ‘ and ‘Geography 1’. ‘The Craft I Left in was Called Esau’ is all about a group of astronauts who leave earth to find anther world because they have destroyed their home, earth. ‘Do You Think We’ll Ever get to See Earth Sir? ‘ is all about a person who realizes his home has been destroyed, there is nothing left and everything is precious and rare.
Geography 1’ is all about a teacher called Christy who is giving a geography lesson about the island of Surtsey which was ‘born’ late and ‘lost’ to soon. My first poem that I will analyse is called ‘The Craft I Left in was Called Esau’. The poem is about human survivors who are leaving Earth to find another world because they have destroyed their home. The poem is trying to say that even though they will not be coming back to Earth, they are very excited about being in Space looking down at their lost home as if it were a small stone.
The poem is set out as 24 short-worded lines and is also written in a free-flowing verse just like ‘Do you think we’ll ever get to see earth sir? ‘. The poem creates a sad atmosphere, by using phrases such as ‘not back to port’. This shows that they, the survivors, are trying not to feel sad and are not looking back. They are looking forward to the place that they are going and the future that they will have. In line 2, one of the survivors says ‘at least that was the name scratched on the smooth door’, which creates sound in the poem – sibilance – the use of the ‘s’ on ‘scratched’ and ‘smooth’.
This could also be an example of a simile. In lines 6-7, Sheenagh Pugh uses another simile, ‘People joked nervously; just like a plane flight’. This creates a good atmosphere with good use of the simile ‘just like a plane flight’ because it is something that the readers can relate to. Also the phrase ‘nervously joked’ conveys the general mood of the survivors, who are on the flight, which is uncertainty and fear. In line 8, it says ‘They found seats, wondered if their bags would fit’.
I think this phrase discreetly shows more atmosphere in the poem as the survivors are worrying over the most trivial things such as whether their bags will fit after they are just about ready to leave their home planet because they misused its resources which caused it to be destroyed. I think that they are doing this to try and blank the past from their minds. In line 10 when a traveler says ‘Be seeing those in close-up soon’, you think that he/she is looking forward to it, as if it is a new adventure and then they say ‘No bother, no big deal. I can’t recall feeling sad. , and this makes you think that they are not looking forward to it.
This is another example of conveying a good atmosphere because it seems to be said very emptily, conveying a large sense of falseness among the readers. It is as if the writer is saying something to try and hide emotion, which tells me that Sheenagh Pugh really means the opposite. The next poem that I am going to analyse is called ‘Do You Think We’ll Ever get to See Earth Sir? ‘, and is the second in the earth series. It is all about a person who came from earth but destroyed it, and now cannot live there.
The poem starts with in a very sad atmosphere, the poem is very sad and pessimistic, an example of this is ‘you won’t see what it was; what it could be. ‘, from line 7. The poem is set out in a free-flowing verse, consisting of 28 lines. In the title, ‘Sir’ is a common courtesy, with a child asking Christy (the teacher) if a school trip would be possible. This would be a polite way to talk to the teacher, and the question mark after ‘Sir’ refers to the person being asked a question. This means that the poem is probably the answer, a long and descriptive reply to a common question from these pupils that he is teaching.
From lines 1-9, he is talking about Earth as it is now, ‘you can’t land, because they’re still toxic’ (from line 5), implying that the land has been exposed to dangerous chemicals, war or long-term misuse, whereas in and from line 10 he changes his tone, explaining what earth was from his memory and not what earth is now. In line 11, Christy is explaining that if you could see anything from nature, you should have a very good look at it because they are very rare and precious. This part is a very good example of a caesura, ‘if you should see’.
In line 12, there is a build up of commas, which shows that Christy is slowing his words, which are followed by a metaphor, ‘damascened with frost’, which is an example of Sheenagh Pugh using a two-fold metaphor, you see beauty and then contrast it with the artificial world. This is followed in line 13 with Sheenagh Pugh using ‘iridescence’, an adjective to describe the uncommon pigeon, usually very noted in the world today, and in lines 15-17, Pugh is saying not to protect yourself and endure the objects value when she writes ‘look at it as if you were nothing but an eye, lidless’.
She explained that you shouldn’t let your eyelids close-up on you. In line 18, it says ‘look at it with your skin’, saying that you should feel it, not just see and hear it. This adds to the visual impact, as you can see and feel what Christy is telling the children to touch. This is followed in line 21, where Sheenagh Pugh is trying to say that you should smell the non-existent, by saying ‘if it has fragrance, breath it into yourself’, and in the next line, she implies that you should lick it to taste the beauty upon coming to something that is so rare and unusual.
In the final six lines, there is a repentance of the word ‘look’, 5 times, which form ‘be organic, we are not meant to live like this’. Finally, in the last line, composure is breaking, when Christy says ‘and look at it once for me’, which implies that Christy can’t go on. My last poem and the final in the ‘earth studies trilogy’ is called ‘Geography 1’. It explains about the island of Surtsey, which was ‘thrown from the sea’ as a result of volcanic activity.
The island of Surtsey was very important to scientists and geographers, because it was like watching the world growing again, new trees, new rocks and a new island in an area of old sea water. The poem is set out in seven clear verses, because it is how Christy is supposed to be teaching the lesson, each verse is a different colour slide, each verse is a different description of what Christy is teaching the class. The poem is also set out in verses to show different time sections of the poem, with the final verse being more personal.
Christy goes from teaching the class with his slides to a more vivid and personal account from his memory about the island of Surtsey. In this poem, Sheenagh Pugh uses sound quite a lot. When Christy is describing the colors in the poem and how the island was formed, you can hear what she is trying to say. In lines 11-13, Pugh uses colour a lot, which is showing how the island was formed. She explains about the spray that came out of the sea from volcanic activity and what the island of Surtsey is made from.
She goes on to say what is creating the island and these are the pictures that are on Christy’s colour slides. This is in the poem, ‘erupting that flood of colours, all triumph – look at the purple – and gold warm and living as the sun’. This is an example of assonance , in the colours ‘gold’ and ‘warm’. I think that the use of sound in the poem does add meaning to the poem because he is trying to teach his geography class and he needs to interest them. When Pugh writes ‘(Look up the Sun, someone, for next week). ‘, you then instantly know that Christy is teaching a lesson as it is made perfectly clear.
In line 19, Sheenagh Pugh says ‘The cooled rock, so black’ which means that the rock is like the island of Surtsey, empty, black and has no meaning. In the fifth verse, Pugh tries to say that nature responds to the island easily, taking it as if it were as normal as any other island. The line ‘Even birds nested in a few years’ shows this and the other line ‘hardly bare any time before the moss inched over’ also shows this In ‘Geography 1’, Christy’s voice starts off normal, he is introducing the class to the island of Surtsey.
He then continues by referring to his colour slides and by the middle verses he is using part of his first hand experience, on what he saw, and then by the last verse he is talking from his memory. In all three poems, Sheenagh Pugh is trying to say that if we continue to destroy the world, we could kill it. We would have to find another planet to live on, where there are no ‘toxic’ spills, and we would have to find a planet that is suitable for us all.
Sheenagh Pugh uses a range of literal devices and is very good when putting them into contrast with the poem. I think that in her fist poem ‘The Craft I Left in was Called Esau’ that she was very good at creating atmosphere and tension. In the other two poems, she was great at describing images. I agree with her that we are careless with resources and that someone will have to come up with an answer soon. The second poem ‘Do You Think We’ll Ever get to See Earth Sir? ‘ was my favourite poem as it had lots of description.