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Starter
• Write down what you think the phrase “Skating on
thin ice” means. What sort of phrase is this?
Starter
Write down what you think the phrase “Skating
on thin ice” means. What sort of phrase is this?
• Doing something difficult, dangerous, likely to
fail or offend.
• It is a metaphor.
The Thickness Of Ice
Liz Loxley
Learning Objectives
As we study this poem you will learn:
• The true story of the poem
• More about the terms,
Metaphor: Free Verse: Repetition:
Pace & Rhythm
• You will also complete some mini tasks and a test
on the poem.
• NOTE: This poem will be set as a question on the
Mid-Term Exam.
At first we’ll meet as friends
(Though secretly I’ll be hoping
we’ll become much more
and hoping that you’re hoping that too)
At first we’ll be like skaters
testing the thickness of ice
(with each meeting
we’ll skate nearer the centre of the lake)
Later we will become less anxious to
impress
less eager than the skater going for gold.
(The triple jumps and spins
will become an old routine:
we will become content
with simple movements).
Later we will not notice the steady thaw,
the creeping cracks will be ignored.
(And one day when the ice gives way
we will scramble to save ourselves
and not each other.)
Last of all we’ll meet as acquaintances
(though secretly we’ll be enemies,
hurt by missing out on a medal,
jealous of new partners).
Last of all we’ll be like children
Having learnt the thinness of ice,
(Though secretly perhaps we may be
hoping,
to break the ice between us
and maybe meet again as friends.)
The Story of the Poem
The poem is not about ice skating, That is its subject, but not its
theme, central idea or what the poet is trying to say!
The whole poem is an extended metaphor that uses ‘ice’ and ‘ice
skating’ as a way to describes how a couple meet, form a
relationship, break up and eventually reconcile their differences.
In the poem a Boy and Girl meet as friends and fall passionately in
love. The newness of the relationship wears off, it becomes a
routine and the passion dies. They break up and meet new people,
but become jealous of each other’s new partner and they secretly
hate each other a little. A few years go by but when they meet
again they still feel a pull towards each other so there is a possible
new beginning for them........as friends. Full circle!
The Structure Of The Poem
Composition
The poem is composed of 6 stanzas of 4 or 5 lines. It has no formal
rhyme scheme and so is written in Free Verse.
There are however a few examples of alliteration in the poem.
MINI TASK 1.
a) Identify the examples of alliteration in the poem.
b) What is the effect of the alliteration?
The Structure Of The Poem
Composition
Examples of alliteration in the poem.
At first we’ll meet as friends
(Though secretly I’ll be hoping
we’ll become much more
and hoping that you’re hoping that too)
At first we’ll be like skaters
testing the thickness of ice
(with each meeting
we’ll skate nearer the centre of the lake)
Later we will become less anxious to
impress
less eager than the skater going for gold.
(The triple jumps and spins
will become an old routine:
we will become content
with simple movements).
Later we will not notice the steady thaw,
the creeping cracks will be ignored.
(And one day when the ice gives way
we will scramble to save ourselves
and not each other.)
Last of all we’ll meet as acquaintances
(though secretly we’ll be enemies,
hurt by missing out on a medal,
jealous of new partners).
Last of all we’ll be like children
Having learnt the thinness of ice,
(Though secretly perhaps we may be
hoping,
to break the ice between us
and maybe meet again as friends.)
The frequent use of alliteration adds rhythm to the poem.
The Structure Of The Poem
Composition
The poem also makes extensive use of Repetition, so much so that it
is almost the Key Feature.
MINI TASK 2.
a) Identify the examples of repetition in the poem.
b) Can you identify any patterns to the repetition?
c) What is the effect of the repetition?
The Structure Of The Poem
Composition
Examples of repetition in the poem – Almost the Key feature!
At first we’ll meet as friends
(Though secretly I’ll be hoping
we’ll become much more
and hoping that you’re hoping that too)
At first we’ll be like skaters
testing the thickness of ice
(with each meeting
we’ll skate nearer the centre of the lake)
Later we will become less anxious to
impress
less eager than the skater going for gold.
(The triple jumps and spins
will become an old routine:
we will become content
with simple movements).
Later we will not notice the steady thaw,
the creeping cracks will be ignored.
(And one day when the ice gives way
we will scramble to save ourselves
and not each other.)
Last of all we’ll meet as acquaintances
(though secretly we’ll be enemies,
hurt by missing out on a medal,
jealous of new partners).
Last of all we’ll be like children
Having learnt the thinness of ice,
(Though secretly perhaps we may be
hoping,
to break the ice between us
and maybe meet again as friends.)
The frequent use of repetition strengthens the rhythm in the poem.
The Structure Of The Poem
Composition
Examples of repetition in the poem – Patterning 1
At first we’ll meet as friends
(Though secretly I’ll be hoping
we’ll become much more
and hoping that you’re hoping that too)
At first we’ll be like skaters
testing the thickness of ice
(with each meeting
we’ll skate nearer the centre of the lake)
Later we will become less anxious to
impress
less eager than the skater going for gold.
(The triple jumps and spins
will become an old routine:
we will become content
with simple movements).
Later we will not notice the steady thaw,
the creeping cracks will be ignored.
(And one day when the ice gives way
we will scramble to save ourselves
and not each other.)
Last of all we’ll meet as acquaintances
(though secretly we’ll be enemies,
hurt by missing out on a medal,
jealous of new partners).
Last of all we’ll be like children
Having learnt the thinness of ice,
(Though secretly perhaps we may be
hoping,
to break the ice between us
and maybe meet again as friends.)
The poem starts and ends as ‘friends’ and with ‘hope’.
The Structure Of The Poem
Composition
Examples of repetition in the poem – Patterning 2
At first we’ll meet as friends
(Though secretly I’ll be hoping
we’ll become much more
and hoping that you’re hoping that too)
At first we’ll be like skaters
testing the thickness of ice
(with each meeting
we’ll skate nearer the centre of the lake)
Later we will become less anxious to
impress
less eager than the skater going for gold.
(The triple jumps and spins
will become an old routine:
we will become content
with simple movements).
Later we will not notice the steady thaw,
the creeping cracks will be ignored.
(And one day when the ice gives way
we will scramble to save ourselves
and not each other.)
Last of all we’ll meet as acquaintances
(though secretly we’ll be enemies,
hurt by missing out on a medal,
jealous of new partners).
Last of all we’ll be like children
Having learnt the thinness of ice,
(Though secretly perhaps we may be
hoping,
to break the ice between us
and maybe meet again as friends.)
This breaks the poem into phases or stages.
The Structure Of The Poem
Composition
Examples of repetition in the poem – Patterning 3
At first we’ll meet as friends
(Though secretly I’ll be hoping
we’ll become much more
and hoping that you’re hoping that too)
At first we’ll be like skaters
testing the thickness of ice
(with each meeting
we’ll skate nearer the centre of the lake)
Later we will become less anxious to
impress
less eager than the skater going for gold.
(The triple jumps and spins
will become an old routine:
we will become content
with simple movements).
Later we will not notice the steady thaw,
the creeping cracks will be ignored.
(And one day when the ice gives way
we will scramble to save ourselves
and not each other.)
Last of all we’ll meet as acquaintances
(though secretly we’ll be enemies,
hurt by missing out on a medal,
jealous of new partners).
Last of all we’ll be like children
Having learnt the thinness of ice,
(Though secretly perhaps we may be
hoping,
to break the ice between us
and maybe meet again as friends.)
The frequent use of ‘we will’ emphasizes the relationship that is at
the heart of the poem.
The Structure Of The Poem
Composition
Examples of repetition in the poem – Patterning 4
At first we’ll meet as friends
(Though secretly I’ll be hoping
we’ll become much more
and hoping that you’re hoping that too)
At first we’ll be like skaters
testing the thickness of ice
(with each meeting
we’ll skate nearer the centre of the lake)
Later we will become less anxious to
impress
less eager than the skater going for gold.
(The triple jumps and spins
will become an old routine:
we will become content
with simple movements).
Later we will not notice the steady thaw,
the creeping cracks will be ignored.
(And one day when the ice gives way
we will scramble to save ourselves
and not each other.)
Last of all we’ll meet as acquaintances
(though secretly we’ll be enemies,
hurt by missing out on a medal,
jealous of new partners).
Last of all we’ll be like children
Having learnt the thinness of ice,
(Though secretly perhaps we may be
hoping,
to break the ice between us
and maybe meet again as friends.)
The use of ‘skater/skating forms part of the core metaphor in the
poem. Thick & Thin are opposites….opposite ends of the
relationship….optimism versus realism or hope versus experience?
The Structure Of The Poem
Tone & Pace
The tone of the poem overall is serious as the poem deals with the
break up of a relationship. However it does have an optimistic start
and ending which do lighten the tone a little.
The pace of the poem is very even and fairly slow which enhances
its serious tone. The repetition and alliteration do create some
rhythm within the poem but not enough to seriously affect the pace.
The Structure Of The Poem
Key Feature
As mentioned already, the key feature of this poem is METAPHOR as
the whole poem is an extended metaphor about a couple’s
relationship.
Because of the complex nature or the metaphor you need to look at
each stanza to work out what the poet is trying to tell us.
MINI TASK 3: In groups discuss your given stanza.
On the board write a short summary of what happens
in that stanza and what you think it means.
The Structure Of The Poem
Key Feature – Stanza 1
At first we’ll meet as friends
(Though secretly I’ll be hoping
we’ll become much more
and hoping that you’re hoping that too)
The couple meet and are attracted to
each other but they are shy with each
other at first. Both hope that the other
feels the same about them.
The Structure Of The Poem
Key Feature – Stanza 2
At first we’ll be like skaters
testing the thickness of ice
(with each meeting
we’ll skate nearer the centre of the lake)
The metaphor starts here….you don’t
skate straight out into the centre of a
frozen lake, you test it firs. The same
with a relationship, you try to get to
know each other before you commit.
Strength of ice = strength of growing
relationship.
The Structure Of The Poem
Key Feature – Stanza 3
Later we will become less anxious to
impress
less eager than the skater going for gold.
(The triple jumps and spins
will become an old routine:
we will become content
with simple movements).
As the couple get to know each other
they do not feel the need to make
constant impressive gestures to each
other, ex. flowers or being taken out for
a meal on every date. What were the
complexities of the relationship at the
start will become the commonplace, and
they become content with that.
Complacency begins to set in as they
take each other for granted.
The Structure Of The Poem
Key Feature – Stanza 4
Later we will not notice the steady thaw,
the creeping cracks will be ignored.
(And one day when the ice gives way
we will scramble to save ourselves
and not each other.)
Complacency and taking each other
for granted begins to destroy the
relationship. As ice thaws it thins and
will eventually crack: so too with this
relationship….but instead of trying to
save the relationship they are only
interested in saving themselves.
The Structure Of The Poem
Key Feature – Stanza 5
Last of all we’ll meet as acquaintances
(though secretly we’ll be enemies,
hurt by missing out on a medal,
jealous of new partners).
If they were married they have now
divorced and time has passed, but the
wounds caused by their breakup have
not healed and there is a sense of
bitterness and hatred here. ‘Medals’ are
a metaphor for the trappings of life a
couple usually acquire; nice house and
car etc…and children/grandchildren.
The jealousy is not metaphorical, but
the fact there is jealousy shows they
still have feelings for each other.
Interestingly the poem seems to
assume that both characters
experience the same feelings.
The Structure Of The Poem
Key Feature – Stanza 6
Last of all we’ll be like children
Having learnt the thinness of ice,
(Though secretly perhaps we may be
hoping,
to break the ice between us
and maybe meet again as friends.)
The final stanza of the poem returns us
to the start, but now the ‘ice’ is
measured by its thinness, not
thickness; or the relationship by its
weakness not strength. The reference
to children is interesting as they have
an innocent, unspoiled view of the
world, adults tend to be more skeptical
and cynical. Still, the poem does end
on an optimistic note with the hope the
couple can once again become friends.
Note the metaphorical ice moves a
metaphorical 90° in this stanza, from
ice that they skate on, to a wall that
comes between them. This time
‘thawing’ is a good thing as it means
the bitterness they felt is fading and
now it is the thinness of the ice that is
important, not its thickness.
Assignment:
Using examples, show how the poet uses
Ice as a metaphor for the growth and
failure of a relationship in this poem?
400-600 words
By Wed 28 Nov.

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