The following text is a personal interpretation of the poem “Marged” by the Welsh poet Gillian Clarke.
Firstly, I would like to give you a short overview of its content: the speaker – a woman – describes the percipience of her home and at the same time compares her own life with the life of the woman who supposedly lived in her house before she moved in. Throughout the whole text, she gives examples of situations when she is reminded of her and how their lives resemble. The poem ends with the question whether the two women might have more in common than living in the same house (cf. l 14).
I started my analysis with the communication situation. It is quite eye-catching that the author uses an explicit speaker because there a many pronouns like “I” (l 1, 2, 13) and “my” (l 6-8) and “we” (l l4) which indicate a strong speaker. The addressee, however, is rather implicit, as there is no direct reference to someone outside the text. It seems to me that the speaker is talking to herself in an inner monologue because the sentences resemble more a chain of thoughts than spoken or written language (“Lighting the lamps, November afternoons,/ a reading book, [...]” (l 5 ff)). Moreover, in terms of atmosphere and manner of speaking, the poem is rather cheerless and written very pictorially. The reader gets the impression of a lonely person (line 9 “and dog for company” and line 6 “a reading book”). No human companions or other cohabitants are mentioned, she even says that she did the rebuilding of “the roof-space” (l 2) on her own. Additionally, the overall atmosphere in the poem is, in my opinion, very gloomy. Expressions like “November afternoons” (l 5) or “old dark parlwr” (l 3) and “lighting the lamps” (l 5) as well as the increased usage of the vowel “O” throughout the whole text emphasize this feeling of a gray day and perhaps even melancholy because of isolation and loneliness.
After looking at the communication situation, I turned to analyzing the form. The poem is arranged in 14 lines, which means that it is a Sonnet. The Volta is placed at the beginning of line 9 (“[...] and dog for company.”). The break there signalises that the speaker stops to describe her present situation and starts to compare her own life with the other woman´s life and the things she has done (she parks her car where the other woman called her single cow (cf. l 9 ff) or “[...] looking at the hills she looked at too” (l 12)). The rhyme scheme is a bit of a mixture between the Shakespeare- and the Petrarch-form: the four lines of the first passage form an alternate rhyme (‘abab’) which is characteristic for a Shake-speare-Sonnet. Yet the next four lines are an embracing rhyme (‘cddc’) – a typical sign for a Petrarch-Sonnet. The third passage again is Shakespeare-style, as the four lines form an alternate rhyme (‘efef’). The two last lines are a couplet (al-though it is only an ‘eye-rhyme’) and are another sign for a Shakespeare-Sonnet (‘gg’). The rhymes at the end of each line in general are rather unclear and do not fit perfectly, and as I mentioned above, there are also some eye-rhymes, e. g. “bed” (l 1) and “died” (l 3), as well as the couplet at the end, “garden” and “woman” (l 9). In summary, I would say it resembles Shakespeare more than Petrarch. Except for the position of the Volta and the rhyme scheme of the second passage, the poem has all the characteristics that indicate this, most of all the couplet at the end with the unexpected question and the arrangement in quatrains. I find it very interesting, that there is no clear decision between the two forms. Two forms, two women – I do not think that this is a coincidence. Once more the strong connection between the two women is emphasized. The fact that the poem resembles a Shakespeare-Sonnet more may indicate that one of the two characters is more dominant than the other. Which one? – That is the question the speaker tries to find out throughout the poem and especially in the last line (“What else do we share [...]” l 14).
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- Interpretation of a poem Gedichtanalyse Marged Welsh Gillian Clarke Wales interior discourse woman life death cold winter´s day