Essay on “in and Around the Yacht Basin – Simon’s Town” by Geoffrey Haresnape

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In the poem “ In and Around the Yacht Basin – Simon’s Town “ by Geoffrey Haresnape, the poet very successfully describes the scenery of the beautiful seaside town mentioned in the title by utilizing certain imagery, line structure and figures of speech. In this essay I will attempt to analyze this poem by discussing the images, structure and syntax used to point out exactly why this poem is so effective.

The poem consists of four parts, separated by 3 asterisks. Each part describes a different aspect of the scenery in Simon’s Town.

The first part consists of six stanzas, each comprising of three lines. The topic of this first part is the different styles of architecture that can be seen in Simon’s Town, each stanza describing a different European style. Throughout the first part of this poem the botanical theme is very strong and the nautical theme that runs through the rest of the poem is also noticeable.

In the first stanza, the words “rigging tangle” are the first allusion made to the nautical theme. By simply referring to the knots and ropes on the nautical vessels, the poet uses synecdoche to symbolize the yachts in the harbour. The following stanzas then describe the buildings further away from the harbour.

In the second stanza, a Mediterranean style of architecture is described. The “Club Mykonos” style which is mentioned here, is familiar to most people, as Club Mykonos is a well-known holiday resort. The poet brings in the botanical theme in this stanza by saying that the apartments are “rhizomes” – the scientific name for the root and stem part of trees and flowers. The use of this metaphor shows that it looks as if the apartments are simply “growing” out of the ground.

The third stanza describes the next type of architecture – the Cape Dutch influence. The Cape Dutch gable is probably the most recognizable part of this style of architecture and the poet uses this specific feature as a synecdoche to symbolize all the Cape Dutch buildings. Once again, the botanical theme is brought into the picture by referring to these buildings as “fungi”, a plant genus usually associated with undesirable plants such as mold, mildew and mushrooms, which usually just pop up out of nowhere. This metaphor might show the poet’s negative feelings towards these alien buildings which have taken over the Simon’s Town landscape.

The fourth stanza starts with very noticeable alliteration – the repetition of the “f” at the beginning of the words “floral” and “filigrees”. One can even go as far as to say that the word “fungi” at the end of the third stanza also ties into this alliteration. As in the previous stanzas, the poet also uses a botanical metaphor in this stanza to describe yet another style of architecture – that of the English. Here he describes the English-inspired wrought iron designs as “floral filigrees”.

The second, third and fourth stanzas (each describing a different European style of architecture) emulate the way in which these diverse buildings are situated so close to each other on this landscape, yet how unique they are and how much contrast there is between them. None of these styles are native to their location, yet they are “planted” there as if they were always meant to be there. Here the botanical theme supports the idea of these alien buildings “growing”, almost like weeds, somewhere where they don’t belong.

In the fifth stanza, the “scrubby hills” of Simon’s Town on which these structures are built, finally get to air their opinion of the situation. By the use of personification, the hills receive human personality and abilities. They “protest” against the foreign buildings built on them. The hills are described as “scrubby” – wild, untamed and natural. The buildings on them are sophisticated, formal and unnatural – clearly the opposite of the landscape on which they are built. The hills obviously aren’t happy with the unfamiliar buildings which adorn them.

The sixth and final stanza...
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