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The Poem "Assisi" was written by Norman McCaig.

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Introduction

The Poem "Assisi" was written by Norman McCaig, and in it he describes his feeling at seeing a deformed beggar outside a grand metaphorical church. The main issue is man's inhumanity to man. McCaig 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. "Assisi" starts off with a vividly described beggar slumped against a church in Assisi in Italy. A priest is leading a group of rich tourist around the church showing them and explaining to them the magnificence of Giotto's Frescoes In the poem, a beggar is sitting slumped beside a grand, ornate and expensive church, whilst a priest is leading a group of tourists around the church. The tourists are taking photographs here and there but they are also fascinated by the beggar and take photographs of him too, however they help him in no way whatsoever. ...read more.

Middle

The poet focuses on the extreme ugliness and monstrous deformity of the beggar. He is described as a dwarf with "hands on backwards", who is "slumped like a half-filled sack" on his "tiny twisted" legs. "Slumped" is an example of the poet's use of onomatopoeia to give a fuller description of the events. This strong descriptive language instantly creates a vivid picture of the beggar and it immediately captures the reader's interest and imagination. The reader becomes quickly aware of McCaig's feelings about this beggar and his situation. The poet cleverly highlights the dilemma of the beggar by contrasting the physical appearance of the dwarf with that of the Church. This contrast shows that the Church, especially the priests, is showing an uncaring attitude to help their fellow man. In stanza three, the beggar is said to be a "ruined temple" and the Church is very different, it has "three tiers". This contrast makes the reader extremely aware of the irony of the situation. 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. ...read more.

Conclusion

'Clucking' would probably be describing the noise made by cameras and 'scattered the grain of the word' describes the priest giving information as if he was god or a bible. This frantic scene makes the beggar seem even more vulnerable and gives the impression that the priest and the tourists are uncaring and apathetic. 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 "Gratzie", his voice is as sweet 'As a child's when she spoke to her mother,' McCaig 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. I feel Norman McCaig very successfully arouses our sympathy towards the beggar and our disgust at the church, using a wide variety of techniques ranging from onomatopoeia, similes, metaphors, dehumanization, juxtaposition, irony and very graphic descriptions of the beggar. It also tells us not to judge people on looks alone. In my opinion Norman McCaig has been very successful at carrying his messages through. ...read more.

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