A naughty, naughty man. What’s it about? Is it an allegory? Are there inferences/references to anything other than suburban decay? What does it tell us about James K Baxter as a poet? What does it tell us about James K Baxter as a person? The couple: National Mum and Labour Dad. Mum lives in the past (“Mum takes down the family files…”). Dad lives in his own world (“Dad sits and reads the Sporting Page/Then ambles out in boots of lead”). Gardening is his solace/escape. Dad has been unfaithful with a neighbour. Mum will never forget (…he/Will get no sugar in his tea). Their children and grandchildren visit on Saturdays. One of the grandchildren “ploughs down” one of Dad’s prized irises. Dad overreacts (“Dad himself can go to town”). The grandchild’s parents soothe things down and leave. The daughter and her husband are selfsatisfied, overweight and opinionated (“Daughter Alice, fat and loud”; “Stuff their tripes with trained endurance”). The two old people are left to their “fouled nest” when everyone has gone. Baxter then delivers his scathing commentary on them and their lives. He goes from subtly undermining their lives by observing them, to giving his outright opinion. “Habit, habit clogs them dumb” What the…? “The Sacred Heart above the range…” A pagan reference: “Yin and Yang will never meet”. What is Baxter trying to say here? Why the repetition: “In Calvary Street, in Calvary Street”? So… is it an allegory? The definition of allegory is “a symbolic work; a work in which the characters and events are to be understood as representing other things and symbolically expressing a deeper, often spiritual, moral or political meaning.” Spiritual Moral Political Social? As a person, this reflects James K Baxter’s despair with the decay he associates with suburbia. This relates closely to his affinity with Maori culture and way of life. In Baxter’s words, the poet “should remain as a cell of good living in a corrupt society, and in this situation by writing and example attempt to change it”. One way in which he has attempted to do this is by exposing what he sees as the emptiness of suburban life. “The elegance of his poetry is what makes the poem effective as a piece of social commentary.” Really? What do you think? Look back at the poem “High Country Weather”. In comparing the Baxter of these two poems, what is he saying about what he values?