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A poem that I have read recently and that has made me consider an issue deeply is Assisi, written by the Scottish poet Norman MacCaig.

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Introduction

A poem that I have read recently and that has made me consider an issue deeply is Assisi, written by the Scottish poet Norman MacCaig. The main issue is man's inhumanity to man. MacCaig carefully builds up his poem around this theme by the use of effective metaphors and biblical symbolism. He also uses descriptive language and vital word choice to convey his issue to the reader and by using a beggar as his symbol of poverty he therefore implies that poverty is ugly. These are the areas that I will be exploring in this essay. The poem itself is simplistic and I think MacCaig wrote the poem to convey life's harsh realities and the insights into the human condition. He does this through his description and in the poem he describes a reject from society to put across his point. Also, the reader is aware, throughout the poem, of MacCaig's suppressed anger. He is angry that such suffering should have to exist in our world, and that our institutions, in particular the Church, should be failing to make things better. ...read more.

Middle

The beggar is being rejected and ignored by the Church and Saint Francis, himself, would be very disappointed that our modern Churches are failing to fully represent the true spirit of his church. The irony of the situation is that the beggar is sitting outside this particular church, built in honour of the patron saint of the poor, Saint Francis and yet the deliverers of the Good News are still rejecting the dwarf. . The poet has a great suppressed anger throughout "Assisi" and he is unable to accept the way the human race is failing to deal with people who are in need of help. In the end of every stanza he adds a wry twist - the dwarf has the "advantage" over Saint Francis, "of not being dead yet". Yet look how he is described. Does he sound alive? In the following stanza MacCaig understands the "explanation" and the "cleverness" but do the priests understand the "goodness of God and the suffering of his Son." ...read more.

Conclusion

He compares them to hens "clucking contentedly" whilst "fluttering" after the priest who is scattering the "grain of the Word". The poet's message is evident, both the Church and tourists need their eyes opened to the suffering, which is happening around them. In the final few lines of then poem, the poet reveals a completely different picture of the dwarf from an ugly, deformed human being. The poet observes that when the beggar says "Gratzi", his voice is as sweet: As a child's when she spoke to her mother, Or a bird when it spoke to Saint Francis. MacCaig thus exposes the inner beauty of the beggar, which is normally masked by his own outer ugliness and deformity. But we are only aware of his inner sweetness when the beggar says "thank you" and he only says that when someone is kind to him. It is this surreal and ironic ending which makes "Assisi" such a clever poem. In conclusion, I feel "Assisi" has opened my eyes to see the suffering that is happening all around the world. It was an extremely engrossing poem and I hope to read more of Norman MacCaig's work. ...read more.

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