Ian Crichton Smith Essay

This essay has a total of 762 words and 4 pages.

Ian Crichton Smith




Grief is a state of powerful emotion, when friends and relatives are plagued with guilt
and regret over unspoken words and wasted moments. This is the emotive basis for the
powerful poem 'You'll take a bath' by Scot's poet Iain Crichton Smith.

Throughout the poem Crichton Smith successfully creates a haunting portrayal of his
guilt-laden grief over his mother's final years and the role he played in her neglect.
This neglect is evident in the vivid image of his mother's home combined with her frailty.
Crichton Smith adds to this his own role in failing to rescue her and subsequently
emphasises the extent to which he is plagued by regret.

The poem is divided into three stanzas, the first dealing with Smith's memories of the
past when his mother was alive; whilst the remaining two explore the present. The first
stanza, dealing with the past, is twice as long as the remaining two. It may therefore be
assumed that Crichton Smith uses the structure to reflect the fact that to him the past
seems more substantial or dominant than the present.

Crichton Smith initially uses the first stanza to convey then threatening nature of his
mothers tenement home, referring to:

'the second turning of the stony stair.'
At this point, Crichton Smith effectively employs alliteration on the words 'stony' and
'stair.' Using harsh sounds to emphasise the harsh nature of the place. In addition to
this the poet also uses the phrase 'stony stair.' Which also has double meaning -
referring both to the cold hard stone and also to threatening looks from other
inhabitants. Furthermore we are told that this cold harsh location had been vandalised.
The phrase

'graffiti were black letters in a book.'
The word choice of 'were' used out of context emphasises the volume of vandalism .This is
supported by the effective imagery of 'letters in a book' suggesting that the graffiti
covered the wall from top to bottom as in 'a book.'. Crichton Smith adds to the sense of
menace by describing the writing a 'misspelt and menacing'. At this point, the poet
employs words which have connotations of threatening ignorance. Such techniques are
successfully combined to convey an image of a place that is both harsh and threatening.

The concept of the malign nature of the tenement is developed throughout the first stanza
with Crichton Smith exploring his own role in his mother's confinement. He tells the
reader that whilst he drove away, his mother would 'wave from the window.' Again the poet
successfully employs alliterative words to draw our attention - this time to the image of
his frail mother still lovingly 'waving' from her prison 'window'. This notion is
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  • Scottish Culture
    Scottish Culture Scotland has a very interesting and rich culture. Its long history has contributed much to the traditions that still stand today. Whether it be its literature, music, art, food, clothing, or sports, Scotland has a lot to offer. a Scotland has contributed many novelists and poets to the world of literature. Such poets include Sydney Goodsir Smith, Norman McCaig, Iain Crichton Smith, Edwin Morgan, George Mackay Brown and Robert Garioch (Fraser 185). Poet Sorley Maclean (1911-1996)
  • Ian Crichton Smith
    Ian Crichton Smith Grief is a state of powerful emotion, when friends and relatives are plagued with guilt and regret over unspoken words and wasted moments. This is the emotive basis for the powerful poem \'You\'ll take a bath\' by Scot\'s poet Iain Crichton Smith. Throughout the poem Crichton Smith successfully creates a haunting portrayal of his guilt-laden grief over his mother\'s final years and the role he played in her neglect. This neglect is evident in the vivid image of his mother\'s h
  • Scottish Culture
    Scottish Culture Scotland has a very interesting and rich culture. Its long history has contributed much to the traditions that still stand today. Whether it be its literature, music, art, food, clothing, or sports, Scotland has a lot to offer. a Scotland has contributed many novelists and poets to the world of literature. Such poets include Sydney Goodsir Smith, Norman McCaig, Iain Crichton Smith, Edwin Morgan, George Mackay Brown and Robert Garioch (Fraser 185). Poet Sorley Maclean (1911-1996)