Wish You Were Here Essay

This essay has a total of 1326 words and 7 pages.

Wish You Were Here


A poet is that which the Greeks called a maker: his Art
an art of imitation, of faining: expressing the life of man in
fit measure, numbers, and harmony, according to Aristotle…
A poet…writes things like the Truth.1.

The metaphorical marvel that is Craig Raine’s ‘A Martian Sends a Postcard Home’ specific
purpose is to compel us through the virginal eyes of another, to look at everyday,
inanimate objects in a new perspective. Raine attempts this by disguising the dramatic
monologue as a postcard. In this simile he can entrust the recipient to decipher the
figurative fragments of verse. The poem is: “…addressed from one individual [a martian] to
another in a way that [implies it] would be read in private by a single reader”.2. Thus,
the poet’s own personal and obscure view can be expressed. Raine chooses an alien as an
‘intelligent eye’ to ponder and ridicule human qualities of impatience, frailty, proneness
to haste, prosperity and weakness. Displaying his own impatience, frustration and despair
at these unenviable attributes we possess. The sequences of events are displayed in a
chronological order, developing coherently the alien’s view of his one-day visitors’ pass
to Earth. The journey begins: “Caxtons are mechanical birds with many wings”. Caxtons are
the original printers, ‘mechanical’ denoting; of or using machinery; printing press.
‘Wings’ connote pages. Raine is illustrating a book. By using the word ‘mechanical’ Raine
is defining books; as void or lacking of thought or emotion. In contradictory terms Raine
completes the first stanza: “…and some are treasured for their markings”, insinuating
their opposing wealth and riches. The first line ends with a one-syllable (masculine)
‘wings’, and concludes on the second line with a two-syllable (feminine), rhyming;
‘markings’. The non-metrical form continues its’ opposing theme in the second stanza…


they cause the eyes to melt
or the body to shriek without pain.

Pain is linked to joy in this oxymoron to reflect awe and bewilderment. The thought or
emotion that was lacking earlier in the books is now depicted in us as we read them.
Laughing and crying are opposing contrasts, causing opposing feelings as we read. The
words ‘shriek’ and ‘melting’ are qualifiers, ‘eyes melting’, ‘body shrieking’ impose more
meaning than ‘crying’ and ‘laughing’…


the content of each individual line dictates its length,
its own number of measures…This kind of poetry often
uses some type of linguistic pattern, such as repetition,
to replace the regular metrical pattern we usually expect to find.3.

So far the poem is not displaying any definite metre. The emerging pattern appears to be
one of opposition. The first epic simile is concluded with: “I have never seen one fly,
but / sometimes they perch on the hand.” Raines tenderness for the written word is
apparent in his descriptive illustration of books, implying the pages are ‘wings’,
connotes them as delicate, and though ‘they cannot’ fly they allow us to soar. Raine has
used the alien to defamiliarise the text, make the ordinary, not ordinary, in this
interpretation we can experience a new and startling appreciation of books through the
aptness of his words. Raine is encouraging us to appreciate the delicate wealth and
richness, joy and sadness that literature can bring us and to not be void or lacking of
emotion in our haste.


Supporting the evidence unraveled in the first extended metaphor, Raine progresses onto a
natural phenomenon; the British weather: “Mist is when the sky is tired of flight / and
rests its soft machine on ground.” The diction continues with further binary
opposition…”mechanical objects transform into non-mechanical subjects”.4. ‘Rests’;
relaxation, tranquility; ‘soft’; gentle; ‘machine’; a structure of fixed and moving parts,
and ‘ground’; solid surface of the earth. The emerging pattern is one of antithesis. In
the first instance the parallelism suggested by the repeated ‘rests’ and ‘soft’ is turned
antithetical in the contrast of ‘machine’ and ‘ground’. The opposition is further
integrated with Raines use of an ‘alien’ opposing us ‘humans’ and even the metaphorical
content, which in itself is a complete opposition; replacing one thing for another. The
setting contrasts the aliens experience before and after its’ discovery. We can assume
Continues for 4 more pages >>




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