May I have a detailed analysis of John Goodbye's poem entitled ''The Uncles'' in terms of language/structure/ themes/imageries/tone?

Expert Answers info

Carter Westfall eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)

bookB.A. from University of the Western Cape, South Africa


calendarEducator since 2014

write1,246 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Language:

The poem reads more like prose than poetry and is a eulogy to the speaker's uncles. It is clear that the poet has done this deliberately. He uses mechanical engineering jargon throughout the poem which signifies the specific particularity of the uncles' trade. They are mechanical engineers who do the hard work of creating engines and other mechanical parts according to clients' specifications. The language indicates how very specific the requirements are. Their measurements have to be correct to the finest detail and the uncles therefore have to be mathematicians to understand exactly what is required and ensure that the requirements are met:

...crossing sevens like émigré intellectuals,
measuring in thous and thirty-secondths (scrawled
on torn fag-packets); feinting with slide rules,...

The language emphasizes knowledge and mastery of their trade. The poet uses terms such as 'Swarfega kings' and 'émigré intellectuals' to denote the uncles' expertise. Their knowledge is foreign to those not involved in the trade and, therefore, when they use the jargon associated with it, they sound like intellectuals from a different world. In addition, the language exposes the habits they have: they smoke and take tea breaks as if they are something special and, therefore, the tea has to be specially prepared. They work hard and are dedicated. They keep their workspace neat but are always at risk: one uncle lost part of a finger in an accident and, as a result, cannot play the banjo anymore. They are exposed to steel shavings and cuts and have lost some of their hearing because of the continuous noise in the workshop.

It is significant that 'Uncles' is capitalized and repeated throughout the poem, which emphasizes the eulogistic tone. The speaker looks up to these men and obviously has great admiration for their skill and dedication. 

Structure:

The poem has no real structure and is written more in prose format. There is no actual rhyme or rhythm although some

(The entire section contains 651 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Ask a Question