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In the poem The Cyclist by Louis MacNiece the readers are invited to share the joy and freedom of the cycling the boys are experiencing in summer via various literary devices. Through the use of theme, juxtaposition,

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Introduction

Freedom with restrictions - a commentary on "The Cyclist" by Louis MacNiece In the poem "The Cyclist" by Louis MacNiece the readers are invited to share the joy and freedom of the cycling the boys are experiencing in summer via various literary devices. Through the use of theme, juxtaposition, repetition and sensory imagery, the poet is able to create a pleasant atmosphere of vigorous youth. However, by mentioning the school studies throughout the poem, Louis MacNiece subtly implies that negative things will always exist, even when we are experiencing the happiest moments in our life. The title of the poem already tells the readers that the focus of the poem is the "cyclist", a young boy who is "freewheeling down the escarpment" (line 1). The very first word of the poem, "freewheeling", brings the theme of freedom into this work. By describing the swift movement of the bike and applying the verb in present tense, it creates a continuous and unstoppable impression of the cycling process when the poet sets the action going down a hill. ...read more.

Middle

The happiness and pleasure brought by "freewheeling" now appear to be somewhat tragic, as we learn they will not last long. The poem consists of 27 lines that are divided into three stanzas of varying lengths. If the first stanza is mainly devoted to the freedom of the cycling boy, then the second stanza's purpose is to build up the summer atmosphere by using remarkable imagery. In line 11, the phrase "glaring, glaring white" creates a dazzling effect, reminding of the color of summer sun. The repetition of "glaring" emphasizes the brightness of the light but gives a sense of danger at the same time too, as it produces an image of a teacher glaring at the student for wasting his time on cycling rather than studying. The heat in the summer time is further highlighted by the image of "the grass boil[ing] with grasshoppers" (line 13). The verb "boil", that expresses the heat needed for liquid to turn into vapor, is so vivid that the readers can almost directly feel the incredibly high temperature. ...read more.

Conclusion

The repetition of "left-right-left" (line 21 and 23) that describes the pedaling process at the end of the poem significantly contrasts the "freewheeling" at the beginning of cycling. The fact that the "the boy must pedal again" (line 22) and meanwhile remembering "his forgotten sentence" (line 21) indicates the joy the boy experiences in summer holiday will eventually fade away: he has to face the reality of schoolwork and start to study hard when the vacation ends. The poem finishes by referring to the unchangeable movements of the "horse in the chalk" (line 24). The horse, although much slower than the bike, can be regarded as the ultimate symbol of freedom, as unlike human, particularly the boy whose school will soon start, it moves "calmly (repeated three times in line 25, 26 and 27) regardless of tenses and final clauses" (line 26). This last juxtaposition of human's restrictions and animal's freedom, together with various other literary devices used in this work, marks the final conclusion of this poem written by MacNiece: although we can experience joy and excitement in our lives, we can never truly be free. ...read more.

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