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Miracle on St David's Day by Gillian Clarke

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Introduction

Miracle on St David's Day by Gillian Clarke Miracle on St David's Day is an enchanting, and ultimately optimistic poem relating to the theme of identity by Gillian Clarke. The poem tells the story of a man in a mental institution, who exceeds the expectation of both the nurses and his fellow patients when he regains the ability to talk. In the first stanza of the poem, Gillian Clarke describes the country house in what seems to be an idyllic setting, "The sun treads the path among cedars and enormous oaks, it might be a country house, guests strolling". However despite the seemingly pleasant tone, implied by the use of her making it seem informal, through the relaxed wondering of what the House may have been," might be a country house, guests strolling", suggesting normality her use of the word might alerts the reader that this idyllic setting may be an illusion and not what it first seems. The illusion of normality is swiftly extracted by the opening line of the second stanza, "I am reading poetry to the insane". This line ends with a certain finality, that is so abrupt that it disturbs the so far, flowing effect to the poem, also implying informality and normality, to the effects that it shocks the reader, not only in the disrupted rhythm of the poem but also in the disturbingly blunt reality of what she is saying. ...read more.

Middle

These words make him seem even more immense, which is odd when they are combined with mild. When the huge laboring man speaks he is in beautiful surroundings reciting a poem about daffodils, which is not only being ironic but is breaking the stereotype of laborers being very masculine and rather insensitive, whereas here he is being portrayed as almost feminine and extremely sensitive. What strikes me most prominently when reading the poem is the amount of imagery used to bring emphasis to the overall meaning of Clarke's poem and to make it more interesting. She has chosen the "Daffodils", by W. Wordsworth, as the music that the mute man chooses to speak after forty years of silence. I believe that she has also chosen to describe the man who cannot speak as mute as it is also a musical term, and so therefore is not just emphasizing that there is no speech in his life, but also that there is no music, relating with happiness and merriment, and therefore is saying that without speech there is no joy in the laborer's life. However when the rhythm of the poetry he is read awakens him, it appears to turn apparent life into reality. The poem is a possible way to show his waking from a world of misery to a reality of nature's beauty and rhythm, "Since the dumbness of misery fell he has remembered there was a music of speech and that once he had something to say." ...read more.

Conclusion

Gillian Clarke effectively alienates the patients in the home and portrays the fact that although they are physically there, they mentally are not by the constant use of word absent, "I read to their presences, their absences". St David's Day by Gillian Clarke illustrates the theme of identity through the use of including people in a mental institution, as they have no identity. Yet after forty years a man's identity breaks through. I believe that this poem is trying to communicate the fact that everyone has an identity; no matter how masked it is from the rest of the world, and by the use of describing them with flowers that cannot speak (which have inner beauty, she is saying that everyone has some kind of identity and beauty. Emotion plays an important part in the poem humor, misery and shock are shown to us and this makes the poems more realistic. Ultimately I feel the reason this is a very effective poem is that the use of daffodils and Wordsworth is subtle but carries a significant meaning that is backed up by the tone of the rest of the poem. I find that the poem is truly touching and although the main message of the poem is quite discrete, the way that it is portrayed makes it seem that you, the reader are really experiencing the miracle. Emily Poole 10s 26/04/2007 ...read more.

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