Can I have some help in the analysis of TV by Iain Crichton Smith?This is your rectangle of narratives. This is the voice that saves you from silence. This is your scroll of perpetual images....

Can I have some help in the analysis of TV by Iain Crichton Smith?

This is your rectangle of narratives.

This is the voice that saves you from silence.

This is your scroll of perpetual images.

Listen, is there time for the poem to grow

in this incessant noise?

Is there time for that which is secret

to blossom?

Privacy must be paid for.

The blessed room, the refuge, the well, must be paid for.

When teh comedians fade like ghosts grimacing in water

when the clowns remove their eyes,

the silence must be paid for, like water,

and the cell be precious

with silence, with fragrance, with the stone of privacy.

For the din is dreadful, the confusion of narratives is merciless,

the screen is vicious, it is a stadium of assassinations.

We need the bubble of our own secret recesses,

the scent of clear water.

The narratives overwhelm us, they have no meaning, they have no connection with each other

We need the sacred light of the imagination.

We need the sacred cell and the pen that lies on the table.

We need the paper, that cool rectangle of white.

For one is heaven, and sometimes the other is hell,

the world of frustrated murderers, teh advertisments, the elegies without echo,

the questioners bending down to the bandaged ones,

the smiling humourless clowns.

The narratives overwhelm us, we need the white paper, unclouded,

we need in that furious hubbub a space for our names,

the sanity of prudent distance.

Asked on by personology

1 Answer | Add Yours

kplhardison's profile pic

Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

Poetry analysis covers everything from structure to theme to poetic techniques. Let's see if we can get you started on the right track. In "TV," the element of structure is certainly the most complicated poetic device. In the structure, rhyme is omitted though rhythm is complicated.

The structure is essentially built on the dactylic metrical rhythm [DA da da: STRESSED unstressed unstressed], though it has so many variations to the meter that it feels more like unmetered, unrhymed free verse. For example, the first line sets up the dactylic rhythm with stress on this voice and nar-. The dactylic meter is clearly distinguishable, though the second foot elides -tangle of so that it is two beats instead of three:

This' is your / rec' -tang -le_of / nar' -ra -tives. [(rk'tng-gl)]

The essential--though not invariable--meter has three feet, rendering the underlying metrical rhythm dactylic trimeter. Compare this to "in this incessant noise?"

in this' / in -ces' / -sant noise'?

This line shifts to iambic (da DA) trimeter. When you scan the rest of the lines to find the myriad variations, look for the word stress on key words; you'll use your dictionary to confirm word stress as we did with rectangle above. For example, before scanning the following line, you must find the word stress for dreadful, confusion, narratives, merciless since the meter cannot oppose prescribed English word stress:

For the din' is dread'ful, the confus'ion of nar'ratives is mer'ciless,

The theme is fairly clearly laid out for us with very little (if any) ambiguity: television, though having friendly qualities, is loud and a distraction and a hindrance to needed moments of solitude, quietude, and creativity. I think we'd all agree to both points! These are some lines that point out the two parts of the theme:

This' is the voice' that saves' you from si' lence.

Lis' ten, is there time' for the poem' to grow

Is there time' for that' which is se'-cret
to blos'som?

We need' the bub'-ble of our own se'-cret reces'-ses,

In another point on structure, Smith employs an old, yet often overlooked, English poetic technique of employing a pause as an unstressed beat: this descends from the caesura of Old English poetry that began in the oral tradition. The comma after listen creates the second unstressed beat through the comma's pause. It also then provides the transition from dactyl to anapest [da da DA], with an interesting addition of an iambic fourth meter, creating tetrameter:

Lis' ten, [pause] / is there time' / for the poem' / to grow'

Poetic techniques are represented by a large number of metaphors. Metaphor: comparisons between two unlike things, without using as or like, that give a vivid mental image of the qualities of the one less familiar thing:

rectangle of narratives.
scroll of perpetual images.
the stone of privacy
the cool rectangle of white

Imagery is also present with some interesting descriptions appealing to the physical senses, as in "the scent" of water, "the din" of TV's noise, the "fragrance" of the "sacred cell."


We’ve answered 317,758 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question