The poem ‘Assisi’ written by Norman MacCraig in which the poet’s feelings are revealed. The poem tells of a deformed dwarf who sits on the steps of a church that was built in the honour of St Francis. The poet describes the suffering of the dwarf then he describes how hypocritical the priest is being by taking tourists round the church rather than helping the dwarf.
Paragraph 2. The dwarf
“The dwarf with his hands on backwards”
The poet uses this metaphor to describe how twister and deformed the dwarf looks. It also implies that the dwarf has poor dexterity in his hands. The reader begins to feel pity for the dwarf. The poet wants the reader to understand the suffering of the dwarf is feeling.
“sat, slumped like a half-filled sack on tiny twisted legs from which sawdust might run”.
The alliteration of the ‘S’ sound in the words sat, slumped and sack creates the impression that sawdust is running out his legs. The sawdust is a metaphor for his life. So the poet is saying the dwarf will not live for very long. The alliteration of the ‘T’ sound in the words tiny and twister give the impression that because t is a hard sound life for the dwarf is also hard as he is having to beg for food.
“outside the three tiers of churches built in honour of St Francis, brother of the poor,”
The poet is comparing the contrast between the dwarf and the church. The church is beautiful where as the dwarf is deformed and ugly. The church is big where as the dwarf is small. The poet also gives the reader a sense of irony that St Francis was a humble person but the monument that was built in his honour is ostentatious.
“over whom he had the advantage of not being dead yet.”
The writer says this sarcastically to give the reader the impression that the dwarf is in so much pain he would welcome death.
Paragraph 3. The priest
“A priest explained how clever it was of Giotto”
The poet is pointing out the irony that the priest should be humble but instead is relishing the attention that the tourists are giving him instead of helping the dwarf as he should.
“of god and the suffering of his son. I understood the explanation and the cleverness.”
The poet is introduced and we can see that he is saying this sarcastically and that he is getting angrier. The poet appears to be criticising the priest for not helping the dwarf when Jesus said that they should help the sick.
Paragraph 4 Tourists
“A rush of tourists, clucking contentedly, fluttered after him as he scattered the grain of the word. It was they who had passed”.
The poet is using the words clucked, fluttered and grain to imply that the tourists are chickens. Suggesting that they are not very intelligent and don’t question what the priest is telling them. The poets tone changes to give the impression that he does not approve of the tourists. The poet uses caesura in the middle of the sentence to emphasize the anger that he has towards the tourists for not helping the dwarf. The writer also uses enjambment to put further emphasize his anger at the tourists.
“The ruined temple outside, whose eyes wept pus, whose back was higher than his head, whose lopsided mouth said Grazie in a voice as sweep as a child’s when she speaks to her mother”
The poet here is using the metaphor as the dwarfs body as a ruined temple to describe to the great extent that his body is wrecked. The poet also uses a run on sentence to give the impression that the dwarf’s suffering has lasted a long time. The simile that compares the dwarf’s voice to a child’s tells us that the poet feels the dwarf is beautiful on the inside even though he is ugly on the outside. The poet also takes the reader back to the feeling that the dwarf is a person rather than an object.
“said Grazie in a voice as sweet as a child’s when she speaks to her mother or a bird’s when it spoke to St Francis.”
This is a contrast between the hideous description that came before. The child and the bird are both beautiful and innocent. The poet is saying that the dwarf is innocent and is beautiful on the inside. The poet is again going back to the fact that St Francis would have helped the dwarf where as the priest who is in charge of the church that was built in his honour does nothing to help the dwarf.
The poet’s attitude towards the church is that it is hypocritical to be claiming to do the work of god then not to help the dwarf who is sitting on the steps of a church in pain. The poet gets across his feeling of disgust with the use of metaphors and similes which compare the priest with St Francis. He builds on that the priest does not help him while St Francis would have. He expands on this message by comparing the ostentatious priest and church to the humble St Francis.
The poet feels that the church should be helping people rather than spending money on a grand church and does this by describing vividly the extent of the dwarfs deformities to get the reader to feel sympathy for him. He then uses this to show how uncaring the priest is about the plight of humanity.