Miracle on St David’s Day by Gillian Clarke Essay examples

1300 Words 6 Pages
‘Miracle on St David’s Day’, written by Gillian Clarke in 1975, is a personal account of the author’s experiences as she visited a mental hospital. A calm peaceful mood is set at the beginning of the poem, as Gillian Clarke describes the countryside and country house. However, the poem leads straight from this gentle nature to the harsh reality of life.
‘I am reading poetry to the insane’ Gillian Clarke is at a mental institution, reading poetry to the patients as a form of therapy. Through the use of the present tense and first person, Clarke places herself within the context of the poem. This is a deliberately abrupt and final statement which gives the impression of an impossible task. However, as she reads, a man begins to rock
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‘An afternoon yellow and open-mouthed with daffodils.‘
The poem begins with an image of a ‘yellow’ afternoon portraying a bright cheerful simple atmosphere and a metaphor of daffodils which are personified as ‘open mouthed’. This image reflects the colour and shape of daffodils in the sunshine and perhaps, surprise; their reaction to a miracle. The sun, also personified, ‘treads’ its path among the trees. This could be an image of the passing of time, portraying the movement of the sun across the sky, rising in the east and setting in the west, following its path over and over. The scene of a country house lures us to believe that the poem is going to be set in simple rural domesticity. ‘It might be a country house’
Gillian Clarke’s vagueness also invites the curiosity of the reader.

The pretty, natural world suggested by Clarke, creates a brutal contrast to the reality of the setting; a mental institution for the insane where the narrator is to read poetry as therapy. Gillian Clarke then describes four specific patients, making the reader feel a great compassion towards them. The first is an old woman, who interrupts the reading to offer buckets of coal. To contrast this,
‘A beautiful chestnut haired boy listens entirely absorbed’
Later the narrator is told,
‘A schizophrenic on a good day’.
This is a very good use of an enjambment; the pause puts an emphasis

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