Basking shark – ppt

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BASKING
SHARK
By Norman MacCaig
LEARNING INTENTIONS
I
can develop my knowledge of
MacCaig poetry
I
can explore the use of poetic
devices
SUCCESS CRITERIA
I
must annotate the poem
I
should explain key
quotations from the poem
I
could explore unfamiliar
vocabulary
STARTER TASK
Think
about an unusual
experience you have had.
Discuss
with your group what
impact it had on you and what
did it make you think about?
Be
prepared to feedback to
the class.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS
After your first reading of the poem,
discuss the following questions in your
group:
1.
What is the poem about?
2.
What did you enjoy about the poem?
3.
What are the main ideas/themes of the
poem?
4.
Any words or poetic techniques that
stand out and what could you say
about them?
BASKING SHARKS IN THE UK
• Every year, holidaymakers flock to the
coastline in the hope of seeing these
enigmatic sharks for themselves.
• Reaching lengths of up to 12m, Basking
Sharks are the largest fish in British waters
and the second largest in the world
after the Whale Shark.
• One of only three plankton-feeding
shark species, these gentle giants reappear in our coastal waters each
spring and summer.
‘BASKING SHARK’
Poem’s main idea - tells of the poet's
unexpected encounter with a shark; the
meeting causes MacCaig to think about
the process of evolution and his position in
that process. This poem teaches us to think
about our relationship with nature in a new
way. It may also cause us to question what
we are doing to our world and each other.
Are we really as intelligent and civilised as
we like to think?
Structure of the poem – split up into five
stanzas, each consisting of three lines.
Rhyming scheme of a a a throughout.
‘BASKING SHARK’ - AN OVERVIEW OF THE STANZAS
 Stanza
One – MacCaig describes the chance
meeting with the shark and makes it clear it
has happened before.
 Stanza
Two – the meetings have had an effect
on him and he thinks back to one particular
meeting.
 Stanza
Three – he begins to question his
position in the evolutionary process.
 Stanza
Four – explains how indistinct humans
were from other species at the beginning of
the evolutionary process.
‘BASKING SHARK’ - AN OVERVIEW OF THE VERSES
Stanza
Five – his opinion of the shark
changes and the poet reveals that he is
not so sure of his own superiority over the
rest of nature.
A clumsy
word, again
reminding us
of the bulk of
the shark.
Provides a dramatic opening
to the poem.
To stub an oar on a rock where none should be,
To have it rise with a slounge out of the sea
Is a thing that happened once (too often) to me.
Infinitive of the
verb("To stub",
"To have" ) unusual
sentence
structure
captures our
attention
immediately.
Suggests that
the boat's oar
has hit on
something solid,
something that
refuses to give
even a little.
Metaphor - we
are led to assume
that the shark, like
a rock, is bulky,
solid, without
feeling and,
perhaps, without
intelligence.
ANNOTATING THE
POEM – STANZA 1
Onomatopoeia it suggests the
noise of the
waves as the
shark leaves the
water.
ANNOTATING THE
POEM – STANZA 1
To stub an oar on a rock where none should be,
To have it rise with a slounge out of the sea
Is a thing that happened once (too often) to me.
Tells us that the
shark is in charge
of the meeting,
the shark is
carrying out the
actions whereas
the poet has no
choice in what is
happening to
him.
The poet
seems to
have been
frightened
by the
encounter.
He has not relished
the encounter at all
but the brackets
indicate a slightly
humourous aside: the
poet was scared but
is trying to make light
of it now.
ANNOTATING THE
POEM – STANZA 2
Initially puzzling:
it seems to
contradict what
he has said in
Stanza One.
The use of the dash
he indicates that he is
in no rush to meet the
shark again.
But not too often - though enough. I count as gain
That once I met, on a sea tin-tacked with rain,
That roomsized monster with a matchbox brain.
The element of shock
has gone and it now
sounds almost as if the
meeting has be
prearranged
between equals.
So
important is
this
meeting to
him that he
claims "I
count as
gain" the
experience
.
ANNOTATING THE
POEM – STANZA 2
For all his size, the
shark has little
intelligence. The poet
believes he is superior
in the evolutionary
scale.
Places the shark very
low down in the
evolutionary scale; it is
reminiscent of
dinosaurs which
existed millions of
years ago.
But not too often - though enough. I count as gain
That once I met, on a sea tin-tacked with rain,
That roomsized monster with a matchbox brain.
Emphasises
the sheer
size and
bulk of the
shark.
Water isn't solid but we
can see the surface of the
water as it is pierced by
the raindrops like tacks in
a wall. The alliteration of
"tin-tacked" also reminds
us of the noise the
raindrops will be making.
Places the
shark very low
down in the
evolutionary
scale; it is
reminiscent of
dinosaurs
which existed
millions of
years ago.
ANNOTATING THE
POEM – STANZA 3
Suggests the poet's
discomfort at being
forced to think that he
might be nearer the
shark on the ladder of
evolution than he likes
to acknowledge.
The shark's movements
have caused the water
to move violently,
shifting the poet and his
boat from their original
position. Also questions
his position in the
evolutionary process
He displaced more than water. He shoggled me
Centuries back - this decadent townee
Shook on a wrong branch of his family tree.
Enjambment of the lines
draws our attention to the
word "Centuries", emphasising
how long it took humans to
evolve but the poet is
travelling quickly back in his
mind.
Sounds clumsy,
as if the poet is
being moved
around fairly
violently in an
ungainly
movement over
which he has no
control.
ANNOTATING THE
POEM – STANZA 3
Perhaps a branch
that the poet doesn't
want to admit exists.
He displaced more than water. He shoggled me
Centuries back - this decadent townee
Shook on a wrong branch of his family tree.
Suggests someone who
has no worthwhile
purpose to their life, but
lives only for luxury and
enjoyment.
Someone who lives in the
town but the word also
suggests that such people
choose to live in the town;
they chose to live away from
nature (their "roots"?)
because they prefer it that
way.
Discovering our
ancestors, the
people we have
been related to
down the years.
Here, MacCaig is
reminding us that the
shark too, is part of
our "family tree", that
we are related to all
of nature in the
process of evolution.
ANNOTATING THE
POEM – STANZA 4
Onomatopoeia suggests the noise of
moving water. It also
describes the swirling
movement of water
and dirt.
Swish up the dirt and, when it settles, a spring
Is all the clearer. I saw me, in one fling,
Emerging from the slime of everything.
Suggests the idea of
growing, of coming from
darkness to light. Like the
shark, the poet has
emerged from "the slime
of everything"
Swirling has
stopped, we can
see the spring of
water more clearly
from the dust having
settled. Suddenly,
he sees his position
in evolution much
more clearly.
With one ‘fling’ the
shark makes him
understand that his
origins are shared with
the shark, as well as all
other living creatures.
ANNOTATING THE
POEM – STANZA 4
Swish up the dirt and, when it settles, a spring
Is all the clearer. I saw me, in one fling,
Emerging from the slime of everything.
Emphasises the
basicness of our
beginnings.
Shows how
indistinct humans
were from other
species at the
beginning of the
evolutionary
process.
ANNOTATING THE
POEM – STANZA 5
Stanza begins with a
question.
At the start of the poem, the poet is almost
insulting the shark, dismissing it as a brainless
monster. However, now he is not so sure of
himself, not so confident that he is the superior
being. Now he questions himself. Is he a monster,
an intelligent being who has failed to use that
intelligence usefully?
So who's the monster? The thought made me grow pale
For twenty seconds while, sail after sail,
The tall fin slid away and then the tail.
Failure to use his
intelligence is further
highlighted when we
realise that the poet only
thinks about the question
he has asked for twenty
seconds.
The clumsy, bulky
creature of the first
stanza has been
replaced by an
elegant, graceful
shark, which the
poet compares to a
ship sailing away.
Just as the poet has
seen himself in a new
light, he has also had
to think about the shark
in a new way. The poet
is much more humble
now, not so sure of his
own superiority over
the rest of nature.
Quotations
Explanation/effect
‘I count as gain’
On reflection MacCaig feels that he has benefited
from the experience.
‘he displaced more than water’
‘he shoggled me / Centuries back’
‘this decadent townee’
‘Swish up the dirt and, when it settles, a spring / Is
all the clearer
‘emerging from the slime of everything’
‘So who’s the monster?’
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