John Foulcher Essay

977 Words4 Pages
The physical, social and historical context of a poet’s life forms the basis of their ideas. This is evident in John Foulcher’s poems ‘Martin and the Hand Grenade’, ‘Loch Ard Gorge’ and ‘Harry Wood’. Foulcher effectively includes the concepts of people and society, nature and death in his poems, developing these ideas from the context in which he lives. The people who surround John Foulcher have influenced his poems. Foulcher is a poet, but also a teacher. His poem ‘Martin and the Hand Grenade’ was based upon a history lesson he taught. ‘The class pauses for history’ uses ‘history’ as a pun to show the setting was a history lesson and the class was waiting for their next instruction, and also because the class is pausing to experience war before they are born. Foulcher was inspired to write this poem not only by the lesson itself, but also by the naïve response that children have to war which contrasts with the response of adults. An adult’s understanding of the seriousness of war can be seen through the imagery used where Martin ‘edges out the firing pin’ of the grenade, ‘fingers the serrations’ with ‘his father’s bleak skill’. This shows that the skill was not something to be proud of, and that Marin was treating the grenade with respect. However, Foulcher cleverly presents the conflicting view of children as the ‘dead weapon hurls across mind fields’. The word ‘mind’ in this phrase is a pun which means mine fields that are in the children’s minds. The metaphor of ‘desk trenches’ clearly expresses the children’s imagination. The grenade is referred to as a ‘small war’ which further implies the careless behaviour of the children who are treating the grenade as a toy even though it is a device designed for destruction. The historical context of war and his students’ response to it have inspired the themes of this poem. Aspects of nature have also
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