Basking Shark : commentary
By : Maaria Chehab
Basking shark by Norman MacCaig is a free verse poem, that might have been written to question the ‘evil’ natures of humans, using sharks metaphorical renaissance for the idea. The narrator introduces this un-intuitive question in line 13, quite bluntly by saying “ So who is the monster? The thought made me grow pale….” MacCaig uses figurative language, syntax, and diction to create this artwork. The poem starts off in a body of water, with the narrator introducing the scene using figurative language. The first stanza appeals to the readers sense of ‘wrongness’ with saying the narrator was “stubbing an oar on a rock where none should be,” (line 1). Automatically the reader feels an amorality; stubbing refers to the (usually painful) experience of jabbing two objects together. Whilst this action becomes in some way wrong to the reader as it is followed up by “were none should be.” further emphasizing the amorality. In the following stanza figurative language is used to belittle the value of the shark. The narrator catches his monster prey with an oar, and calls it “ that room sized monster with a matchbox brain” ( line 6) Thus the narrator introduces the shark as a creature that is despicable, wicked, and geol like. The word matchbox is substituted for small, creating a more powerful degradation. A “Room sized monster” is convenient to kill. Come to think of it, not all that threatening, espeashally if said monster has a matchbox brain. In the third stanza, the narrator shifts gears, noticing the ‘wrongness’ of killing the shark. Figurative language is used to bring the reader into the poem. “Swish up the dirt and when it settles, a spring is all the clearer. I saw me, in one filing, emerge from the slime of everything” (line 7-9) the reader can almost see the narrator fling down the blade in one swift movement and look back at the mess on his deck. However the author seems to be seeing himself doing...
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