Ian Crichton Smith

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Grief is a state of powerful emotion, when friends and relatives are plagued with guilt and regret over unspoken words and wasted moments. This is the emotive basis for the powerful poem 'You'll take a bath' by Scot's poet Iain Crichton Smith. Throughout the poem Crichton Smith successfully creates a haunting portrayal of his guilt-laden grief over his mother's final years and the role he played in her neglect. This neglect is evident in the vivid image of his mother's home combined with her frailty. Crichton Smith adds to this his own role in failing to rescue her and subsequently emphasises the extent to which he is plagued by regret.

The poem is divided into three stanzas, the first dealing with Smith's memories of the past when his mother was alive; whilst the remaining two explore the present. The first stanza, dealing with the past, is twice as long as the remaining two. It may therefore be assumed that Crichton Smith uses the structure to reflect the fact that to him the past seems more substantial or dominant than the present.

Crichton Smith initially uses the first stanza to convey then threatening nature of his mothers tenement home, referring to:
'the second turning of the stony stair.'
At this point, Crichton Smith effectively employs alliteration on the words 'stony' and 'stair.' Using harsh sounds to emphasise the harsh nature of the place. In addition to this the poet also uses the phrase 'stony stair.' Which also has double meaning - referring both to the cold hard stone and also to threatening looks from other inhabitants. Furthermore we are told that this cold harsh location had been vandalised. The phrase

'graffiti were black letters in a book.'
The word choice of 'were' used out of context emphasises the volume of vandalism .This is supported by the effective imagery of 'letters in a book' suggesting that the graffiti covered the wall from top to bottom as in 'a book.'. Crichton Smith adds to the sense of menace by describing...
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