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Assisi Critical Evaluation

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Poetry: Critical Evaluation "Assisi" - Norman MacCaig Darren Parker There are not many poems that I have read that have genuinely shocked me however, Norman MacCaig's "Assisi" is one of them. "Assisi" is a shocking and thought provoking poem in which the poet uses many devices to effectively highlight the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church and his anger at the apathy of society. In this essay I will explain which aspects of the poet's ideas shocked me and how the devices such as tone, lexical choice and imagery provoked such a strong response in me. In this poem, MacCaig observes a shocking and disturbing event when he notices a misfortunate, disabled beggar wasting away outside a church built in honour of Saint Francis. MacCaig is infuriated when he further observes a priest and a group of tourists failing to acknowledge the beggar's existence. The hypocrisy of the church and the apathy of society are effectively highlighted through these ideas. The writer tries to deliberately shock us and successfully provokes a strong response of anger and sympathy. The opening stanza of the poem clearly highlights the plight of the disabled and those less fortunate than we are. ...read more.


I am really disgusted and shocked at the priest's behaviour for he would rather exploit someone else's work rather than practise what he preaches. In addition the poet's lexical choice is very ironic as the priest explains how Giotto revealed the suffering of God's son when the real suffering is outside: "reveal the goodness of God and the suffering of his son" Here the priest talks about revealing suffering however he fails to notice the real suffering outside-the poor helpless beggar. This suggests that the priest is very condescending and hypocritical as he only preaches the word of God and does not follow it. This really shocked me as the priest is blatantly ignoring his duties and is only concerned about receiving money from the tourists which I feel is shocking and appalling As the poem progresses to the third stanza MacCaig makes another attack however this time he points the finger at us. The poet is furious by the apathy displayed by society-he thinks we should be doing more to help others: "It was they who has passed the ruined temple outside," The syntax "they" is cold and condemning. ...read more.


The word "scattered" is very haphazard and it shows that the "word" may be lost along the way. As the poem approaches its conclusion, MacCaig starts to describe the Beggar's inner beauty. He makes clear that he believes that the beggar is closer to God than anyone else: "whose lopsided mouth said Grazie in a voice as sweet as a child" Here we can clearly see that the poet is trying to show us the beggar's inner beauty by giving connotations of innocence and purity. Although the beggar is deformed and disfigured on the outside; he is sweet and kind on the inside which is the most important thing of all. To conclude I feel that MacCaig has successfully shocked me and have provoked a strong response of anger and sympathy. The poet used several devices to achieve this including imagery, tone and lexical choice. This poem has had a tremendous effect on me as I now see life differently, I finally realise that we should be more concerned with others and less concerned with ourselves. This poem was very shocking however thought provoking as I know understand that sometimes we must look deeper to find a person's true character. ...read more.

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