Elegy for my father’s father. James K. Baxter. James Keir Baxter was born in 1926, in Dunedin, New Zealand Baxter become one of New Zealand’s finest poets and most controversial figures
James K. Baxter
Baxter become one of New Zealand’s finest poets and most controversial figures
In his short life he produced a huge number of poems, plays, literary criticism and social/religious commentary
His father was Archibald Baxter, who was one of New Zealand’s better-known pacifist from the First World War
Baxter took an interest in poetry from an early age
His first collection of poems where published in 1944, when he was only 18
He was deeply influenced by the Romantic poets and classical mythology
After visiting India in 1959, he returned to New Zealand, deeply concerned with the poor and social inequality – a idea he showed through his poems
His strong judgements of society were often harsh and were not always well received
Baxter died of a heart attack on 22 October 1972 from a heart attack
Elegy For My Father’s Father: deeply concerned with the poor and social inequality – a idea he showed through his poems
Different kind of title – very direct deeply concerned with the poor and social inequality – a idea he showed through his poems
Written in past tense – reflection
Written is second person – author describing the death of someone else
Idea of ‘Death’ – universal idea
Poem is one stanza long (written on two pages but actually one stanza)
Tone is dull and slow
References to nature and water
Basic – First Impressions:
‘Elegy’ deeply concerned with the poor and social inequality – a idea he showed through his poems
A sad and thoughtful poem lamenting the death of a person.
Lamenting – passionate expression of grief.
Poem about sorrow and praise
Sorrow for the death but prise for his life.
Elegy For my Father’s Father
Grandfather not used. Creates more of a distance. Distant relationship or generation cycle.
Adds more to the age.
Title very direct. Targeted at one specific person. Dedicated to father’s father – male dominance
Death – natural process deeply concerned with the poor and social inequality – a idea he showed through his poems
Remembrance of the past
Seasons – change
Phases of life
Ideas of poem (general):
‘cairn’ deeply concerned with the poor and social inequality – a idea he showed through his poems- A mound of rough stones built as a memorial or landmark, typically on a hilltop. Burial mound made of stones.
‘aaronsrod’ – flowering shrub
‘sods’ – surface of the ground held together by matted roots
‘burning-glass’ – magnifying-glass
‘boughs’ – the main large branch of a tree
‘When he was deeply concerned with the poor and social inequality – a idea he showed through his poemsold and blind…
He sat in a curved chair’
‘old and blind’ – aging
Live is catching up to Baxter
Capability to be the strong figure fading
‘When’ – past tense – reflection of what used to happen before the grandfather passed away
‘sat in a curved chair’
Contrasts the active words mentioned in the previous slide
As the time is coming nearer to the cold ‘Winter’ of end, things are becoming progressively slower – the tone is transferred back to being dull
‘sat’ enhances the grandfathers incapability
Reflects the old age of inability in contrast to the prime age of activeness
‘The tongues of water spoke deeply concerned with the poor and social inequality – a idea he showed through his poems
And his heart was unafraid’
‘tongues of water spoke’ – personification
Another person of his conscience talking to him in his dreams
Reminding him that all this time the grandfather had been able to keep the emotions bolted in and now death shouldn’t be something to bring them out
Baxter’s father’s father was aware of the cycle of life – shown through the various seasons
This aided his heart to be ‘unafraid’
‘water’ also has its own cycle, like the life cycle
It is an essential element for life, like the ‘heart’
The ‘heart’ and ‘water’ are both natural aspects of life – Baxter uses these aspects to explain how natural death comes as a process of life
Despite the grandfather’s failure to express feelings, he was sensitive to his experiences of the natural world around him.
The poem is just one stanza long metaphorically mentioned in the poem.
(even though it is on two pages – it is actually one stanza)
The stanza consists of 38 lines
The use of one long stanza represents life as one long process – it is continuous
It starts from the beginning and finishes at the very end – there are no pauses between life just like there are no gaps between the lines of the poem
The length of the lines have no pattern and there is no rhyming scheme – showing how life is not structured.
It is random with no automatic pattern it can follow
Through the in-depth interpretation, the author has tired to draw on audiences attention towards the deeper meanings of life, if they even is one
Follower – Seamus Heaney metaphorically mentioned in the poem.
Praise Song for My Mother – Grace Nichols
A Dream – William Allingham
My Parents – Stephen Spender
Poems to compare to: