Fleur Adcock Saying What You Find Interesting About Their Writing Styles And The Way That They Deal With The Subject Matter. Essay, Research Paper
Compare 2 poems by Liz Lochhead and Fleur Adcock saying what you find interesting about their writing styles and the way that they deal with the subject matter.
I have chosen to compare Liz Lochhead?s poem Revelation and Fleur Adcock?s poem Nature Table. Both poems describe young children?s first encounters with nature, their imaginations and suggests the passing of their youth. Liz Lochhead and Fleur Adcock have chosen a similar subject matter to explore but they have very different styles of writing in which to express their ideas.
Lochhead describes a young girls first encounter of ? Bob? the bull. To the child the bull represents all that she had ever feared existed.? I had always half- known that he existed- this Anti- Christ?. The imagery which is used to describe the bull makes him appear to be a mad, evil ? beast? because that is how he appears to the young girl. His ?black? ?darkness? and ?rage? is contrasted with the fragile, white ?well rounded? eggs. The ?placidity? of the milk is the opposite force to the ?anarchy? that the bull represents. The girl believes that the bull is a threat to the milk and eggs physically, but Lochhead suggests that they are also a threat metaphorically. Black has always traditionally been used to represent evil and death and the references to the ?Anti-Christ? and the double meaning to ?Black Mass? suggesting Witch craft reinforces this image. Lochhead is perhaps suggesting that the white eggs and milk represent the fragility and purity of childhood that are threatened by the evil forces in the world which the bull represents.
At the start of the poem we are told that ?They called him Bob- as though perhaps you could reduce a monster with the charm of a friendly name? I think that this could represent parents or even adults in general when she says ?They? and I think that she could be commenting on the way in which people try to shelter children from the upsetting or frightening parts of life. The eggs have the potential to be infant chickens, so it gives us a very maternal image of the girl protecting the eggs in the same way that ?They? are trying to protect her from the upsetting parts of life which the bull represents. The ?Revelation? in a sense is that the girl has uncovered a side of life that she previously only suspected existed. It is perhaps even commenting on the way in which humans try to protect themselves from the reality of death by using pleasant words to describe it e.g. ?passed away? ?moved on? in the same way that the the girl thinks that ?They? have given the bull a friendly name to describe what she sees as a ?beast?.
The eggs are described as ?well rounded? and ?self-contained? which is how both the individual and society would like to see themselves, but like eggs they are fragile and easily destroyed. The milk has connotations of motherhood and nourishment and it is only a young girls ?small and shaking hand on the jug?s rim? that is stopping the milk from spilling which further enforces the images of the vulnerability that the eggs and milk symbolise. The eggs and milk could also represent the aims of society and how the ?anarchy? that threatens it is always there, hidden in the shadows.
When the girl leaves the barn she is shaken by her experience ? I ran, my pigtails thumping on my back in fear? and it is as if this ? Revelation? has changed the way that she perceives the world. She seems to be more aware of the bad things going on around her
?the boys?who pulled the wings off butterflies and blew up frogs with straws?
?thorned hedge? and she senses her own vulnerability, she is frightened for herself and for the innocence and goodness symbolised by the milk which she must protect.
They egg imagery is continued in the last verse when the girl describes the ?harried nest? and being frightened of the eggs shattering, it is unclear if she is referring to the chicken eggs which she has been sent to fetch or the eggs in the nest but it could be either.
I can relate to what Liz Lochhead is trying to express in her poem because there have been experiences that have revealed to me an idea which I had never thought of before that have changed the way that I see the world. I think that she captures the sense of vulnerability and fear that people can feel when something happens to change the way in which they perceive their lives and how little control that they actually have. They realise that they really are as fragile as the eggs and that they actually don?t understand the world. The ?well rounded,
self-contained? world exists only in their imagination and the reality is that it is constantly being challenged by all the things which people will try to forget.
Nature Table describes a class of young children examining a tank of tadpoles. Fleur Adcock expresses each of the children?s personality through her description of their reaction to the tadpoles. Heidi is presented as a dreamer, she imagines that the snail is ?on her knuckle like a ring? and that there are ?purple clouds? that are like ?a sky for the tadpoles in their world?. Heidi gives an idea of what the girl in Revelation could have been like before her frightening experience , instead of Heidi?s innocent imagination comparing the snail to a ring she makes comparisons with monsters. Heidi also shows that she is protective over the tadpoles ?Promise that you wont start eating each other!? in the same way that the girl in Revelation is protective over the eggs and milk. Laura shows her appreciation of nature ?with her nose in a daffodil, drunk on pollen, her eyes tight shut? in contrast with Matthew?s attitude to the tadpoles, he hopes that they will start eating each other! Matthew and Tom remind me of the boys in Lochhead?s poem that are ?blowing up frogs with straws? Both poets explore the different attitudes to nature that children have. In both poems the boys are presented as mischievous and even quite cruel compared with the girls sensitive and protective attitudes towards the creatures.
I think that the tadpoles in Nature Table could be a reflection of the children which are playing with them. The tadpoles are young frogs and the children are young people. Heidi could be seen to take quite a maternal protectiveness over the tadpoles in the same way that the girl in Revelation tries to protect the eggs. Both the eggs, the tadpoles and the children represent an undeveloped being. ( Fleur Adcock in her poem Tadpoles also explores parallels between the growth of a tadpole and a foetus in the womb ).
In Nature Table the negative force is represented by the change in the weather and the change in the mood of the poem in the last verse. The bird in the fifth verse that is ?happy on the bird table? is sent flying as the ?wind quickens?. ?Window glass rattles, pellets of hail are among the bird seed? It is interesting that Adcock chose to use the word ?pellet? to describe the shape of the hail because snails are talked about throughout the poem and slug pellets kill slugs and snails. The snail on Heidi?s finger in the second verse is used to illustrate her child like imagination and in Tom?s imagination his squashed nose looks like a ?snail?s belly?. Perhaps the ?pellets? represent the destruction of their childhood and therefore their innocent imaginations. Adcock gives us the impression that the change in the weather is parallel with a change in the children. Perhaps she is suggesting that the innocence of childhood will soon be over, as the same ?revelation? that came to the girl in Lochhead?s will come to them.
I like the way that Fleur Adcock captures the personalities of the children, she uses quite simple images that really give you a feel for what she is trying to describe. The language that she uses can be quite childlike at times ?wriggle, wriggle? ?fizzy? which makes you feel as if you are hearing it from a child?s perspective. Adcock uses humour to show the mischeiviousness of Matthew and Tom so although their intentions are quite cruel, you can?t view them with the same contempt as the boys blowing up frogs in Revelation.
I think that I prefer Revelation to Nature Table because I find the contrasting images really interesting and I think that it is a poem that can be read to mean lots of different things because it doesn?t seem to reach any conclusions of its own.
Six Women Poet’s
Nature Table by Fleur Adcock
Revelation byLiz Lochhead