Tom McMahon stem B Literature
Assisi by Norman MacCaig
This poem was written by Norman MacCaig after a visit to the town of Assisi in the 1960s. The theme of the poem is exclusion and social injustice, also hypocrisy in the modern Catholic church. He uses a free structure containing no rhythm or rhyme he uses imagery such as similes and metaphors he uses contrast and irony.
In the first two lines “the Dwarf with his hands-on backwards sat slumped like a half filled sack” contains many techniques, metaphor where the fact is the dwarfs hands on not literally backwards but twisted and deformed. He also uses a simile that the dwarf is like a half filled sack a valueless object made more so by being only half filled. There is also a sibilance sat, slumped, sack and sawdust which together make a disconcerting sound and or feeling for the reader.
In the next two lines “on tiny twisted legs from which sawdust might run” he uses the alliterative tiny twisted. And the sawdust can be regarded as the dwarfs life slipping away.
And in the next section “outside the three tiers of churches built in honour of St Francis brother of the poor, talk with birds, over whom” he is juxtaposing the wreck of a man outside of the church with the magnificence and grandeur of the three tiered wedding cake of an edifice which as the church at Assisi. He uses enjambment to further accentuate the grandeur of the church, which like the poem itself as in three parts, grand, grander and grandest. He uses irony in that the beggar is outside the church dedicated to the poor. And also in the advantage that the beggar has overseen Francis of not yet being dead which in reality is no advantage at all.
In stanza 2 the whole stanza is a concrete image of exactly what is happening it uses enjambment to reflect the pomposity and arrogance of the priest who has swapped his spiritual role