The beginning of the poem creates a sense of immediacy in the poem: This morning I watched from here By stating the time at the beginning he suggests how deeply he was affected by his experience as he wants to write about it right away. This shows how important the themes and ideas of the poem were to him. This sense of immediacy is emphasized later in the stanza when he writes ‘But now Midnight has come in . . .’ He is writing the poem as he experiences the violence in the streets below. This conveys how powerful an impact his experience had on him. The opening also emphasizes the poet’s isolation in the city he is visiting. He is an observer not a participant and we wonder why. Part of the answer is revealed when the poet describes what he sees from his window during the day. The imagery he uses is unexpected: I watched from here a helicopter skirting like a damaged insect
the Empire State building, that
jumbo-sized dentist drill, and landing
on the roof of the PanAm skyscraper.
Firstly he uses a simile comparing ‘a helicopter’ to ‘a damaged insect’. The comparison is effective as at a distance the size, sound and movement of the helicopter resemble an insect. However, his choice of the word ‘damaged’ suggests that he is not as impressed by this example of modern technology as we would expect. Insects also are often found around decaying remains so the image reminds us of death and dying. McCaig seems to be suggesting that there is more this famous city than first meets the eye . In addition the metaphor he uses to describe the Empire State Building emphasizes this idea. The shape of the building resembles ‘that jumbo-sized dentist drill’ because it narrows towards the top and has a long thin radio mast. The image of the drill suggests pain and suffering. Again McCaig seems disturbed by what he sees. His tone is dismissive. He is unimpressed by these symbols of wealth and...
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