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Miracle on St. David's Day by Gillian Clarke - How does the poet use subject, theme, language and poetic techniques to engage the reader?

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Introduction

Miracle on St. David's Day by Gillian Clarke How does the poet use subject, theme, language and poetic techniques to engage the reader? The poem is about a 'miracle' that occurs on St. David's Day, when a dumb man is touched by the power of a poem. The poet, Gillian Clarke, visits a mental hospital and recites poems to the patients. One of the poems that Gillian Clarke reads is called 'The Daffodils' by William Wordsworth. The continuous theme running throughout Gillian Clarke's poem is the healing power of nature and how nature can even cure the damaged minds of people who were thought of as incurable. Gillian Clarke finds nature of great importance. This may be the reason she reads the poem 'The Daffodils' at the mental hospital in the first place. I am lead to believe that she starts reading the poem and the dumb man follows on from her lead. The dumb man finds his freedom through a poem about nature, so Gillian Clarke believes nature has healing powers. ...read more.

Middle

When we meet the woman sitting in a cage of first March sun, Gillian Clarke uses deliberate repetition of the word not when she describes the woman's actions. The woman sits "not listening, not seeing, not feeling". The woman appears caged inside herself, as a result she is not hearing the words and appears vacant. This repetition causes one to imagine how limiting her life must be because she absent to world and gives reason for one to sympathise with her. Gillian Clarke causes the readers to take pity on the "big mild man", because she explains that although the man us big on the exterior, he is mild on the interior. I feel for this dumb man because he has to be led to his chair, whereas any ordinary man would be independent. I also find it interesting that Gillian Clarke uses an oxymoron to survey how the patients appear trapped inside themselves. Gillian Clarke reads to their "presences, absences". Again, on the exterior, the patients seem present, but on the interior, their minds are absent. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is the point in the poem where we realise the power of speech and nature, which Gillian Clarke believes very strongly in. I find "that once he had something to say", very moving, because it was only at that point that I could believe that the man really had not spoken for such a long time and now he had been released with the strength of a poem. I think "the daffodils are flame" is a very effective way to finish the poem because it is rounding off with the daffodils where it first started. As the main theme of the poem is the power of nature, I feel that it is an excellent way to finish. "Flame," means that the daffodils appear to become brighter, even when they are not, to symbolise the end of the "miracle" workings. When I first read the poem, I was puzzled by the different figures of speech that Gillian Clarke uses, but after reading it again, I found them very inventive. The poem left me with a feeling of satisfaction and fulfilment, because the thought that nature has healing properties is awe-inspiring. - 1 - ...read more.

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