Please help analyze "TV" by Iain Crichton Smith, especially structure and stanzas, theme, and metaphor.TV by Iain Crichton Smith This is your rectangle of narratives. This is the voice that saves...

Please help analyze "TV" by Iain Crichton Smith, especially structure and stanzas, theme, and metaphor.

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 denna97

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

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[eNotes can't do your assignment for you. Instead, we answer your question with examples and pointers so you can go on and do your own assignment.]

The first step in poetry analysis is analyzing structure. "TV" is in free verse. This means there are no stanzas. It may be correct to speak of free verse poetic paragraphs, but it is generally not correct to speak of free verse poetic stanzas (of, course, since it is free verse, there may be exceptions). As an example, Lines 6, 7, and 8 may be called two poetic paragraphs:

Is there time for that which is secret
to blossom?
Privacy must be paid for.

By way of contrast, here are two stanzas from a rhyming, quatrain Frost poem, "Late Walk":

When I go up through the mowing field,
The headless aftermath,
Smooth-laid like thatch with the heavy dew,
Half closes the garden path.

And when I come to the garden ground,
The whir of sober birds
Up from the tangle of withered weeds
Is sadder than any words

Since "TV" is free verse, there is no rhyming nor is there metrical rhythm, such as iambic pentameter (five feet of unstressed stressed ('/) rhythm). There may be rhythm and even repetition, but it is usually a conversational cadence and not a set meter.

The theme is expressed early in the poem in lines 4 and 5: "is there time for the poem to grow / in this incessant noise?" The poetic speaker, which may or may not be a poet's own voice (though in this case the persona is accepted as Smith's own voice), is protesting the overwhelming noise and psychic clutter our modern lives assail us with, specifically, through the television shows some of us drown our quietude in, that "rectangle of narratives," Speaking for poets, the speaker asserts the TV overwhelms the poet's thoughts and privacy. The poet needs time, space, quiet to find the words of poetic expression. This theme is confirmed at the end of the poem: "The narratives overwhelm us, we need the white paper, unclouded,"

The overriding metaphor is one quoted above: "rectangle of narratives." A metaphor compares two things are that really not alike by relating a feature or quality of one to the other. A metaphor does not use the words "like" or "as" in the comparison though a simile does use these words. An example of metaphor is a comparison between a book and a schoolhouse. A schoolhouse may be said to be a book of life (feature: knowledge) or a book may be said to be one's private schoolhouse (feature: learning).

Smith makes a comparison in this metaphor between poetic narratives and TVs narratives. Narratives tell stories: poems tell stories, and TV shows tell stories. Therefore, TV is "your rectangle of narratives" as opposed to the narratives of poetry found on "white paper, unclouded," with that "furious hubbub [of] a space for our names."

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