Wednesday, 13 March 2013

11bEn1 - Unseen Poem No.1

Hi 11bEn1,

As you are almost definitely aware, the first half of your poetry exam will involve analysing an unseen poem. The poem is not guaranteed to be on the theme of relationships, and indeed, is often a nature poem. So let's get ahead and do some unseen analysis; try this one for starters:

National Trust

Bottomless pits. There's one in Castleton,
and stout upholders of our law and order
one day thought its depth worth wagering on
and borrowed a convict hush-hush from his warder
and winched him down; and back, flayed, grey, mad, dumb.

Not even a good flogging made him holler!

O gentlemen, a better way to plumb
the depths of Britain's dangling a scholar,
say, here at the booming shaft at Towanroath,
now National Trust, a place where they got tin,
those gentlemen who silenced the men's oath
and killed the language that they swore it in.

The dumb go down in history and disappear
and not one gentleman's been brought to book:

Mes den hep tavas a-gollas y dyr

'the tongueless man gets his land took.' 


  1. The structure of the lines that rhyme for the stanzas are: ABABC B CBDEDE FG F G (I have purposely done it this way because the author has made lines from different stanzas rhyme). The author has made lines from different stanzas rhyme because it slows down the rhythm of the reader, allowing them to feel the impact of what what was written. For example, after the first stanza, the author made the single line rhyme with line 4 so it makes the reader pause after reading it.
    At the end of the poem, there is a line among the last four lines of the poem that is written in Cornish. The author made it rhyme with a previous line so that the reader pauses after reading it, which gives the last line (which rhymes with a previous line) a bigger impact to end the poem with.

  2. in this poem Harrison is bringing the light of the hardships that the British working class had to go through as being a miner was one of the toughest and lowest jobs. Also minorities were not cared about as it says "those gentlemen who silenced the men's oath and killed the language that they swore it in." this means the upper class men do not care about the minorities as they are only labour,such as the Cornish.

  3. The poet talks about people in working class suffering due to the law being bent by the law creating negative effects on the the working class. The phrase "Mes den hep tavas a-gollas y dyr" suggests that although they have a voice they may not be listened to or maybe they feel that they are ignored due to their status in society. It also suggests that the government of the country are bending laws so they seem unimportant.

  4. This poem signifies the harsh realities miners had gone through and shows how they were separated from the upper classes. Harrison has used poetic techniques such as enjambments. The use of enjambment helps to create a better flow of the poem which develops a calmer tone and atmosphere. The comma after "O gentlemen" in line 7 isolates it from the rest of the stanza and this connotes how the men were isolated from the rest of the society at the time of when the poem was set.

  5. The rhyme scheme for this poem is 'ABABC B CBDEDE FG F G.' The poet has made a single line rhyme with a line in the previous stanza because it slows down the rhythm and pace of the reading and allows the meaning behind the poem to sink into the reader.
    Towards the end of the poem, the poet writes a line in Cornish, which further slows down the pace of the poem which shows the importance of the last line (Translation of the Cornish).

  6. I the poem Harisson discsses the hardship that was exprienced in Britain after the War and moving towards the industrial revoltion. He also says that themean were winched up and down evertytime this refers to th work of miners in this time ad ho difficult and dangeros it cold be. I think that Harrison created this poem to emphasise the problems that the miners had to face day in day out. He then goes on to sa thatall of their struggles were in vain as they won't go down in history nor be put in any books. Harrison presents his ideas in this way to ensure we think about the amount of time the miners have to spend down there the use of the word 'dumb' in the poem suggests that the majority of the miners were not educted so they were forced to the job while the upper class live their lives and the use of 'go down' represents the contless amount o time the had to go down the mines.The poem by Harrison mainly emphasise the miners struggle that weren't recognised by the upper class

  7. Tony Harrison says “a place where they got there tin” the use of this quote shows that this poem is about British miners who worked in the tin mines. This is also supported when Harrison says “bottomless pits” which connotes to the large deep holes (the mines) that they work in. Furthermore this also connotes with the type of people such as the lower class who worked in mines and shows the type of language used by the people at that time. The poem is also about the suffering that miners faced whilst working in the mines for example the imagery of torture is presented when Harrison says “Not even a good flogging made him holler”. The use of imagery is meant to represent a sudden shock as it is a one word stanza unlike the other stanzas which makes this line and stanza standout and show how intensive the torture that was faced by people. This line also reveals how badly these people were treated by the owners of the mines and gives the miners a worthless image in the poem along with the other types of torture in the poem.

  8. Harrison talks about the harsh reality of the classes. The miners struggle as the lower class, as they were separated from the upper class. "Bottomless pits" suggests they're work was tough as it never ended, going deep into the holes to mine. Furthermore, "the dumb go down in history and disappear" implies he's talking about the miners as they weren't recognised for all the hard work which they had to go through.

  9. This poem is about the difficulties the working class have to get their voice heard. The phrase 'Mes den hep tavas a-gollas y dyr (the tongueless men get's his tongue took)' suggests that the voice of the working class isn't valued by the law (the upper class) who takes the produce of the working class' labour for granted. Furthermore 'bottomless pits' suggests that this injustice has been going on for time and there are no signs of it stopping.

  10. In this poem,the poet Tony Harrison discusses the harsh reality that the miners of the lower class had to live in relation to upper class citizens.The phrase in the first stanza 'Bottomless Pits' may refer to the endless amounts of greed that people of the upper class possess and their relentless hunger for more money through the exploitation of the lower class.The first stanza of the poem creates a horrific image of torture and bad treatment of the lower class. The phrase 'Not even a good flogging made him holler!' evokes shock and disgust from the reader in relation to the cruel abuse of the miners.Furthermore Harrison uses this phrase to emphasize the helplessness of the people whom have been imprisoned, stating that they have no voice to report such abuse as they are merely seen by others (mainly the upper class) as dust on the face of society. This quote also suggests the lack of empathy that the upper class possess for the individuals in society who possess a lesser status than themselves and further connotes that they are not hindered by the prospect of torture in order to achieve their goals.

  11. This poem is about the hardships that the working class had to go through at this time and he shows that they had very little to no say in what was going on around them. He emphasizes this when he says 'the tongueless man gets his land took.'

  12. The poem is about the inequality between the upper class and the lower working class. There is a sinister tone to the poem as Harrison is showing the reality of the lower working class people and how their lives were at the time. The quote "stout upholders of our law and order" suggests that because nobody cared about the working class people that there was no justice for them as law and order in their eyes didn't exist.

  13. This poem; The national trust is about the miners who suffered during the war and the misery and oppression which they faced after. Tony Harrison emphasises on the unjust done to miners after the war as they were not given any importance even after all the struggle and sacrifices they had been through. In this poem, Harrison mentions, " the dumb go down in history and disappear." This sentence suggests that the men's hard work has been forgotten and unappreciated. From this particular statement, we can also infer how Harrison highlights that the miners exertion went down in vain in order make the reader show sympathy towards them. Furthermore, 'dumb' shows us that it was majority of the lower class who were forced to join the war and were not educated.
    This poem also brings to our attention that the miners would have been treated with disrespect as they were of working class which meant that they were seen as inferior to the upper class. "The tongueless man gets his land took." In my opinion, i think that Harrison is referring to the fact that the miners were suppressed by the upper class so they had no power to speak against them and had to obey all orders they were commanded.
    The explanations of the miners working deep underground is a metaphor for uncovering the british history.
    I think that the poets main message is that miners should be recognised and that is a difficult thing to leave everything behind and be forced to fight in war.

  14. The poem 'National Trust' highlights the struggles of the miners and the lower classes. This can be seen in the line "Mes den hep tavas a-gollas y dyr (the tongueless man gets his land took). Showing that men without voices (the lower classes) cannot change events or have says in matters. The poem is showing how the lower classes were taken advantage of by the "gentlemen",and that they could not doing anything about it.

  15. In this poem the author emphasises the struggle and hardships of miners and emphasises their silent pain, this is shown in the line "not even a good flogging made him holler!" Furthermore the line "Mes den hep tavas a-gollas y dyr" (the tongueless man gets his land took) shows that the lower class who are unheard were disregarded and ignored.

  16. Tony Harrison talks about the unpleasant reality of the classes. the miners struggle as the lower class because they were separated from the upper class, which the phrase "bottomless pits" shows this as it suggests the miners work was tough and it never ended. furthermore, the phrase "the dumb go down in history and disappear" suggests the hard work done by the miners had not been remembered or recognised by anyone.

  17. In this poem the writer focuses on the harsh reality in which British workers had to go through. Harrison suggests that British workers, particularly the lower class would have worked in 'bottomless pits' which could be seen as the mines. It could also be seen as the never ending hardship that the workers had to bare. The first stanza of the poem creates an image of torture. Furthermore 'Not even a good flogging made him holler!' emphasizes just how helpless the prisoners are and how the upper class people had no remorse at all.

  18. This poem is about the harsh lifestyles that the miners of the day led and that their lifes didnt really go anywhere to have hat much of a purpose. This poem is to detail the bleak out look they have on life. When Harrison describes the caves as "bottomless pits" this signifies the endless days they work. Furthermore, becuase the poem starts out with "bottomless pits" this draws in the readers attention while also show to the reader that this poem isnt going to be all to nice. The rhyme structure of this poem goes a such "'ABABC B CBDEDE FG F G"

  19. in this poem Tony Harrison desribes how people's social backround define them, he shows a battle of the classes between the poor british workers and the 'gentelmen'. Harrison wants to show how ill treated the average workers are,we can tell he is on their side and has strong opnions about the matter. Harrison portrayes the upperclass as materialistic gentelmen, his negative portrayal of the upper class continues to develops in the last stanzas as he shows how the 'gentelmen' take advantage of the average worker.

  20. What is the poem about? What ideas can we see through the poem and does the poet have a specific message?

    In the poem Harrison is exploring the theme of social class particularly those of miners. "National Trust" is British organization that looks after historic sites around the country. Harrison seems to be using the term both literally and figuratively. He mentions the former tin mine at Towanroath that is now a National Trust site, and he also seems to be saying that the nation has a moral obligation ,a trust, to remember the hardships and the sacrifices of the working class "The dumb go down in history and disappear", supports this as it suggests that he does not want the "dumb" ,the miners, to be forgotten.

  21. The poem is about the harsh life in which the working class lived, and that being a miner was hard and unrewarding. The quote ''The dumb go down in history and disappear'' suggests that unless you were an upper class citizen, you would not be remembered for your work.

  22. The poem talks about the working class being used by the ones in charge. The phrase 'Mes den hep tavas a-gollas y dyr' could mean that they are not allowed to complain about their standards of living, for fear of punishment and as a result, they lose their freedom and basic human rights. It could also be an allusion towards the popular punishment of cutting a criminal's tongue or ear off. Furthermore,the phrase 'the dumb go down in history and disappear' could show that the superiors feel that the working class are of a lower level of intelligence than them and thus, are often looked down upon or unacknowledged by them.