Coursework Thursday, 07 February 2002
I am going to discuss the poems ‘Strong Man’ and ‘Grandmother’s Cactus’ both which were written by Tony Curtis.
Both the poems are concerned with love and death ‘Strong Man is about a loving father who is extremely strong and gets weaker in age and then dies’, but as he gets weaker he still has a strong spirit. My grandmother’s cactus is about a grandmother that was a real character she had loads of different experiences and had a ‘Strong’ personality. Some times she made people dislike her because she arguing a lot with family and neighbours but her grandson always loved her. Her grandson who wrote the poem, had bought her a present when he was in ‘Primary School’, which was a cactus, he had bought this from ‘The royal welsh show.’ This cactus becomes a very important symbol to the grandson after the grandmother dies the cactus reminds him of his grandmother.
In ‘Strong Man’ the poet isn’t one of the man’s sons because he mentions “you” and “your” but it is still a very personal poem. In the first verse the poet shows that the man is strong. By showing the man doing lots of things that are extremely hard to do, like punching nails into wood “with a clenched fist.” The poet uses the image of the father being like a three. I think this is a good because we think of trees be large, strong, able to stand up to nature, long lived, permanent structure, something that’s always going to be there. I think from the happy cheerful family fun in the first verse that the children thought that their father would always be there for them, showing off his strength, swinging all five of his sons from his arms and “turning like a roundabout.” In the second verse the mood of the poem the sons have to do all the care and everything for the father. The roles have be reversed he is like the baby he cannot go to the toilet on his own.
This is a preview of the whole essay
Although it is very sad to see this strong man weak and helpless I think he is still strong in his heart and there is a lot of strength in the love they feel for each other. The man is about to die, that is what Tony Curtis means by the line “In the final hour” when the father is now so light and fragile that in stead of it being “like holding onto a tree” Tony Curtis uses the simile “like holding on to a tree” Tony Curtis uses the simile “a frame of bones like plywood” to describe how weak the father is. The father doesn’t what to be any trouble to anyone and one of his sons who (and who must have told Tony Curtis what had happened) replies, “No trouble Dad” the son holds his father in a cradle like form like when he was a baby in his fathers arms, the role has been reversed once again.
This poem has two verse the first verse has 8 lines the second has 6 lines this is no rhyming pattern and it is very personal it is about death and memories whereas my Grandmothers cactus is 7 verses long and 4 lines in each verse there is no rhyming pattern. The cactus brings back memories of his grandmother. The same poet “Tony Curtis” writes these. The cactus is a prickly plant just like his grandmothers personality in the 1st verse it is written in the present tense as if it is happening now. It is as if you are in the room “this cactus is shooting points out from the desk at the centre of my room.” This is a violent image, which is further explained later in the poem. In the first verse we learn that the cactus is from an agricultural show (the royal welsh show) here is where the grandson bought his grandmother the cactus. He loved his grandmother and this was his gift “a kid’s odd present.” The present of the cactus wasn’t significant at the time it was just an ordinary present from a child’s visit, but now it is the centre of attention because the grandmother has died and this reminds him of her.
Tony Curtis the poet uses similes to describe the plant and the grandmother he says, “gran, you grew as prickly as the plant.” This shows that the grandmother was sometimes miserable and quarrels with neighbours and family, the grandson talks to the plant as if it were his grandmother there and he is very lonely. The poet is annoyed that his grandmother is dead and the cactus is still alive, growing but he can’t talk to it because it doesn’t talk back to him “now that dumb plants out lasted you.” In the third verse the poet says the cactus is doing really well now “it thrives” but it was kept small by lack of light when she had it. It was “stunted by the lack of sun through your half drawn curtains” maybe she spied through the curtains on here neighbours or She may have been afraid to go out.
In verse four the poet shows the opposite ideas of the “delicate” soft flowers gentle colour and the harsh prickly damaging “needles” here he is talking about the plant an his grandmother he uses similes “flowers likes anemones” and the words canker and darken could have been chosen to make the reader think of cancer and death. I think the poet must be in his late twenties maybe early thirties.
The cactus has twisted and shrivelled it is a violent image when he works hard and reaches for a book he is “spiked” I wondered why he hasn’t thrown out or moved the cactus. I think its because the cactus has sentimental value. He uses alliteration of the letter “s” to show the violent and painful wounds he gets from the cactus “the needles stab through shirts and wool and cloth. Just same way that the needles get under his skin so did his grandmother they both hurt him but she meant a lot to him.
In the last sentence in verse six the poet says that now his grandmother is dead he can’t through the cactus away because its grown and blossomed with his grandmother its just like his grandmother it’s the only thing that he’s got of his grandmother. “But gran its part of you in my life.” In verse seven it says “gran you are a part of my life and one day “I will turning, to the shelf, thinking of quite different things” “put my face right into it that sure pain” the poet is saying one day he will face up to the pain of his grandmothers death and through out the cactus.
I enjoyed reading both poems because they show loving relationships between father and sons, grandmother and grandson. My favourite one was strongman because the relationship between father and sons is strong especially with one of the sons. The father cared for his the sons all his life and looked after him until he was an old, weak and unable to look after himself the son looked after his father. This shows the love between father and son, the son is repaying the favour by looking after his father.