Maccaig – similarities essay notes for HR12F and BC

Report
MacCaig poetry
Comparing two poems
No matter which two poems you
selected, you should have found
some of the following points of
similarity:
Similarities with other poems
• The poems are lyrical (tell a story) - the viewpoint is
personal.
• On the whole MacCaig's poems are short/well structured.
• They display extensive use of metaphor and imagery.
• MacCaig enjoys playing with words and their meanings.
• His poems show acute observation with many 'snapshot'
images and cameo-type miniatures.
• Many poems show skilful use of contrast.
• He often uses antithesis* and paradox* in his poems.
• The 'tone' is not usually bitter
• His poems often show a sense of the ridiculous but tend to
be more whimsical than cynical.
antithesis* (opposite) and paradox* (inconsistency/absurdity)
Hotel Room, 12th Floor
Brooklyn Cop
This morning I watched from here
a helicopter skirting like a damaged insect
the Empire State Building, that
jumbo size dentist's drill, and landing
on the roof of the PanAm skyscraper.
But now midnight has come in
from foreign places. Its uncivilised darkness
is shot at by a million lit windows, all
ups and acrosses.
Built like a gorilla but less timid,
thick-fleshed, steak-coloured, with two
hieroglyphs in his face that mean
trouble, he walks the sidewalk and the
thin tissue over violence. This morning
when he said, 'See you, babe' to his wife,
he hoped it, he truly hoped it.
He is a gorilla
to whom ‘Hiya, honey’ is no cliché.
But midnight is not so easily defeated.
I lie in bed, between
a radio and a television set, and hear
the wildest of warwhoops continually ululating
through the glittering canyons and gulches police cars and ambulances racing
to the broken bones, the harsh screaming
from coldwater flats, the blood
glazed on sidewalks.
Should the tissue tear, should he plunge through
into violence, what clubbings, what
gunshots between Phoebe's
Whamburger and Louie's Place.
The frontier is never
somewhere else. And no stockades
can keep the midnight out.
Who would be him, gorilla with a nightstick,
whose home is a place
he might, this time, never get back to?
And who would be who have to be
his victims?
Hotel Room, 12th Floor
Brooklyn Cop
This morning I watched from here
a helicopter skirting like a damaged insect
the Empire State Building, that
jumbo size dentist's drill, and landing
on the roof of the PanAm skyscraper.
But now midnight has come in
from foreign places. Its uncivilised darkness
is shot at by a million lit windows, all
ups and acrosses.
Built like a gorilla but less timid,
thick-fleshed, steak-coloured, with two
hieroglyphs in his face that mean
trouble, he walks the sidewalk and the
thin tissue over violence. This morning
when he said, 'See you, babe' to his wife,
he hoped it, he truly hoped it.
He is a gorilla
to whom ‘Hiya, honey’ is no cliché.
But midnight is not so easily defeated.
I lie in bed, between
a radio and a television set, and hear
the wildest of warwhoops continually ululating
through the glittering canyons and gulches police cars and ambulances racing
to the broken bones, the harsh screaming
from coldwater flats, the blood
glazed on sidewalks.
Should the tissue tear, should he plunge through
into violence, what clubbings, what
gunshots between Phoebe's
Whamburger and Louie's Place.
The frontier is never
somewhere else. And no stockades
can keep the midnight out.
Who would be him, gorilla with a nightstick,
whose home is a place
he might, this time, never get back to?
And who would be who have to be
his victims?
Comparison Essay
• Two poems by Norman
MacCaig with similar
themes are ‘Hotel Room
12th Floor’ (HR12F) and
Brooklyn Cop (BC) both of
which are set in New York
and both of which deal with
the theme of underlying
violence.
• Each poem, being set in
New York, shares imagery
and descriptions of the
setting in a bustling, always
busy city that never seems
to sleep. But along with the
rich and varied lifestyles
comes a darker side; the
underlying violence. In
HR12F it is the violence and
crime that appears at night
and in BC it is the violence
that is always present
waiting for the Cop to
prevent or perhaps cause it.
Comparison
• Para 1 – Imagery
• New York by day/night= a
violent Wild West (HR12F)
and a similar description in
BC. In HR12F the violence is
hidden by the daytime and
only appears after dark. In
BC it is always there but
hidden under a ‘thin tissue’
until it is torn by the
criminal or the reactions of
the Cop defending the
citizens.
• Para 2 – techniques –
metaphors
• New York – ‘jumbo sized
dentist’s drill’ (HR12F)
implies pain IS present and
foreshadows the night to
come. In BC it is the
metaphor that the cops are
gorillas; territorial, quick to
anger, very violent in their
responses to danger or
other violence.
Comparison
• Conclusion: Both poems share obvious
similarities in terms of imagery and the
techniques used to describe the underlying
violence as well as the setting. In HR12F it is
the metaphor of the wild and untamed West
after dark, in BC it is the metaphor of a jungle
guarded by gorillas.

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