A poem that explores an important topic Assisi Norman McCaig. The reader finds himself in an awkward table where the themes of hypocrisy and corruption inherent in the affect of religious piety are drastically alleviated. Written in the poetic form of free verse, the poet bypasses the traditional form of rhyme and rhythm in an attempt to develop this idea of corruption. Due to the careful choice of words and clear imagery, the poet vividly reflects the duality of man and the social dichotomy of wealth and poverty.
The poet immediately introduces this section through the title. Ambiguously referring either to the city of Assisi or to St. Francis of Assisi Assisi hints at both. The city of Assisi is known to be adorned and grand; the house is of magnificent architecture and is associated with great wealth. On the contrary, St. Francis of Assisi dedicated his life to the poor and gave up his aristocratic wealth for the sake of monastic life, symbolizing great poverty. Thus, a title consisting of a single word, even before being aware of the situation with the poem, is skillfully used by McCaig to introduce the theme of hypocrisy.
This theme along with corruption in the modern Church develops throughout the verse. Assisiit is the story of a deformed dwarf sitting near the church of St. Francis. While the priest conducts the tour with the tour, the dwarf sits on the street, praying: a subtle reference to the social gap. Through the personification of these characters, McCage develops major themes.
In the first stanza McEig presents the dwarf as a pitiful figure, describing his hands as “in the opposite direction”. Both literally and metaphorically reflects the uselessness of the dwarf, the next line “sat down like a half-filled bag” develops this idea. Judging by the lack of rigidity, the resemblance evokes the image of a deformed and deformed dwarf, while hissing is used by MacCaig to heighten the reader’s sense of insecurity.
The pitiful image of the dwarf is expanded in lines ‘tiny twisted legs from which / sawdust can escape’. In fact, only in these two lines does McCage use many techniques to develop an image of the dwarf’s insignificance: a lexical choice. “twisted ‘, which not only suggests pain and functional incompetence, but has connotations of inversion and depravity, which also brings us closer to the central theme of the poem; the use of consonance on a solid “t” used to enhance an emotional anxiety response; and tying on “Sawdust”emphasizing his objectification of the dwarf. The metaphor is extended to the previous line and is intended to discredit the dwarf, characterize him as an insensitive article and deprive him of human quality.
The dry sarcastic tone is adopted by McCaig in the next line. He describes “built three tiers of churches” to show how complex the Church is, and to emphasize the irony of such a pitiful being who is in such a grand setting. We are also told that the church is built “In honor of St. Francis”. St. Francis was a humble man who would not care that rich cathedrals were built in his name. He has surrendered such riches to help people like the dwarf, so the fact that he sits on the street hungry and lean is deeply ironic. To emphasize this the poet uses other techniques. For example, the finish of this line emphasizes the large scale of the building. Similarly, MacCaig changes the expected syntax of the last line of this sentence “Not yet to be dead” to emphasize the irony. This inversion also reflects inequality and injustice while reinforcing a frustrating tone.
In the second stanza we met a priest who was conducting a tour of Giotto’s frescoes inside the church. This is poignant because it illustrates the widespread corruption in the Church. The frescoes were originally commissioned to teach poor stories from the Bible. У Assisi, they are used as a source for capital, not for spiritual development as was their original purpose. The role of the priest has been shifted from the role of a spiritual guide to the role of a guide, and McCague uses a self-deprecating tone in this stanza to emphasize perceptible hypocrisy. He also expresses his contempt for social duality; that great wealth and great poverty often coexist. This is evident from the lines “… I understood / explanation and / intelligence”. Mankaig here very effectively uses the ensemble, showing his contempt for the neglect of the priest and, consequently, for the neglect of society.
In the final sentence MacCaig uses other methods to study the main topics. First, he uses the extended metaphor of the priest as a farmer. He describes Fr. “hurry up” tourists “happy to click”. Words “hurry up” means a lack of reflection, assuming that tourists are unaware of the irony of the situation. The use of alliteration and anatomy hints that tourists are as simple-minded and unreasonable as chickens. The metaphor expands by describing tourists as “flutter”, creating the image of them who blindly follow the priest without knowing any hypocrisy. It also uses a different trick used by MacCaig to display basic themes: “… as he scattered the grain of the word”. This corruption of the phrase used in the Bible is intentionally intended to reflect the corruption of the values of the Church. It also reflects that, according to the poet, the priest has forgotten about his spiritual duties, and the tone is quite shameful.
At the end of the poem McCague further shows his disgust and sense of injustice. He tells us “it’s they passed / destroyed the temple outside.” Words “they” conveys an accusatory tone. The group could not notice the suffering of the dwarf, too absorbed and shallow to understand how hypocritical they were: it is here that we learn that the poet is repulsed by this situation. Comparison “destroyed temple” conveys a powerful message. The words “destroyed“symbolizes the broken appearance of a dwarf, as opposed to the word”temple“symbolizes the perfect and sacred interior of the dwarf, that is, his humanity.
The image of the dwarf in this last stanza is particularly sharp and successfully unites the main themes of the poem. MacCaig, very harshly, further describes the appearance of the dwarf: “… whose eyes / cried pus, his back was higher / than his head, whose mouth …”). This cruel display of a dwarf is used to create a certain effect: to shock the reader and feel his regret; in fact, we are challenged to keep it. In the final lines of the poem McCague returns humanity to the dwarves, revealing its inner beauty. Comparison “… the voice is sweet / like a child when she talks to her mother / or a bird when he talks to St. Francis” very clearly reflects the purity and innocence of the dwarf. The tone also reflects pure injustice and unnecessary pain, which obviously make up most of the gnomes ’lives. Why should his sufferings go unnoticed?
Through a variety of methods, MacCaig successfully engages our sympathy, and thanks to research topics such as corruption and hypocrisy, we are forced to ask what it means to be human. The duality of man is revealed through both characters. A priest may be a man who serves God, but the role he performs serves only capitalism. The broken dwarf is also whole – deformed to the world, but perfect to God. Through the structure of the poem we observe these two lives as separate, but McCague reports an absolute synonym. So we have Assisi: a poem of conscience.