Slessor Wild Grapes

Wild Grapes #

I. Subject Matter - Wild Grapes: #

The poet visits an old abandoned orchard and shows how passing time and nature have transformed and destroyed human effort. Nature is supreme?

II. Sound Effects - Wild Grapes: #

Read the poem aloud. Comment on the Sound Effects, verbal music, its rhyme, rhythm and melody. Assonance, alliteration, onomatopoeia, etc. (Blending, repetition patterns, slow/fast movement, Melody, tone, mood, atmosphere, voice.

The eerie haunting of a ghost mystery with a touch of nostalgia. The ghost-like atmosphere creates a feeling of desolation and despair.

III. Themes - Wild Grapes: #

Artists tend to look at life as either progressing or declining. Things do fall apart - the entire universe is in the process of entrophy - it may take millions of years before the sun expires.

Gardens are a symbol of man’s domination over nature. Shakespeare frequently uses the image to show how husbandry is needed to keep things in order. The lack of care leads to dissolution. In Lear and Richard II failing to maintain a garden represents decadence in state affairs.

A Civilisation in crisis?

Modern Poetry is concerned with the point of Human achievement.

Prior to WWI the feeling was positive, optimistic, sanguine

devastation and destruction of war created loss of sense of progress

Civilisation in state of crisis

Pointlessness of it all - a sense of futility

Hopeless despair

Meaningless of life, language, history, religion, human endeavour.

Night (death) is the ultimate reality.:

Space between life — senses and memories death - dark night and Nothing

Defeat of human effort and achievement by Time

Mysteries of the Past may be evident, but only through “smoking air” and so mysterious and unrecoverable.

The seductiveness of the outlaw - the exotic, the forbidden, the passionate.

IV. Poetic Technique - Wild Grapes: #

structure, images, (visual, auditory, olfactory, tactile, gustatory) figures of speech, contrast, antithesis unity irony etc

Perspective: Outsider, an observer, looking through a window, a pane of glass

IMAGES: Concrete

‘ Corrupt” Garden of Eden? - Old orchard

Sour marsh - bitter, decomposition, decay, death

Broken boughs — defeat, desolation abandonment

Vanished Mulligans or Hartigans — mystery of their disappearance.

Cherries .. that birds forgot. Why the absence of birds and insects?

Apples bright as dogstars. - image of light - dogstar is Sirius the brightest star in the evening sky.

Isabella Grapes: wild, hardy, outlaws, bitter, sweet, sharp pointed (like dark nipples of a Gypsy’s breasts?) and plentiful like buckshot. Dominate the orchard as the ravages of time destroy man’s attempt to control nature.

Musket-shot — vivid image of numberless quantity.

Isabella the dead girl - the forbidden siren the female paradox - wild Gypsy, outlaw, half fierce, half melting, - alluring yet repelling sensual, (dark hair and silver pins) passionate yet with feminine mystique.- the mystery of her death. Though her powerful memory lingers in the orchard, this too is obliterated by Time as we can never be sure of her fate. Even her passion is ambiguous and paradoxical ‘ Kissed or Killed, - Memory fails us again.

Symbolism Surrealism

Grapes are fruit but also represent life, s*x, voluptuousness.

Smoking air - nothing is clear.


Concrete abstract

Sweet Bitter

Factual Suggestive

V. LANGUAGE - Wild Grapes: #

diction, tenor, level, euphemism, punctuation, ambiguity, connotations, evocative, emotive/dernotive. .onmission. .etc.

Poetry — the magical power to turn lead into gold, the dead into living?

Ambiguity, double meanings, contradictions

Bitter fruit — like love or life pleasure and pain.

Girl — half fierce — half melting

Isabella; Wild Grapes - and exotic Gypsy girl

Small pointed, black: Grapes or breasts?


Harsh sweetness of grapes! girl?


Kissed or Killed Who knows?

Fruitlessness — barrenness

Swallows that never come.