Eden Rock AQA GCSE English Literature

Eden Rock AQA GCSE English Literature



hi I'm going to look at the poem Eden Roc I'll first take a broad overview of the poem and then provide a close analysis along with some relevant context okay so the speakers parents are about to have a picnic the setting is vague the details aren't filled in but generally it seems idyllic that's because details like Causley mentions the grass and the stream and then he also gives lots of details that are related to brightness so the mother shades are eyes presumably because of the sunlight the sky widens a pretty phrase sort of suggesting that the sky is so bright it's losing its blueness and then this lovely image of the mother's hair taking on the light so if you add those details the ones relating to brightness together it makes the environment seems so fused with light which is pretty idyllic also we also have this reference to the Eden in the title of the poem and again in the first line of the poem so if you do a bit of brainstorming or remember that Eden is the earthly paradise created by God for Adam and Eve it's referenced to by Genesis in the Old Testament so if you take all those terms and you link them together it's clear that the poem is giving an impression of an idyllic scene so the idyllic physical setting I'd argue much as the ideal nature of the child Peres relationship in this poem so why do I say that and how can I back that up well if we go to the last stanza the parents are on one side of the stream and the speaker is on the other they call to him in the last stanza and they use the imperative sea but this is an urgent and it's not presented as an order it's more gentle encouragement or an invitation why do I say this well partly because of the use of the word leisurely in the preceding stanza it means that they're beckoning to him leisurely so the parents are relaxed and they're reassuring so this makes it seem when they call to him that the speaker can cross or not cross when are as He wills so the word leisurely links in is very similar in meaning to the words slowly so the fact that these two words are both put into the poem suggests that the parents have all the time in the world and so does the speaker but at the same time we know and the speaker knows that his parents are waiting for him they are expecting him after all the mother is setting out three plates and presumably also three cups so really their ideal parents they're supportive they're inclusive they're encouraging but they're not willing to limit the speaker's freedom okay so all these features create a great sense of peace and tranquility in the poem and this is backed up by other details so the mother sets up the picnic stuff in what appears to be quite an orderly and neat manner and then we have the dog trembling at the feet of the speaker's father so that implies that the dog is being obedient so there is quite a strong sense that everything is either where it should be in this poem or is being placed where it ought to be and this idea this theme is reflected in the layout of the poem so the text has an orderly appearance on the page so you have four lines to each stanza making each stanza a quatrain and structurally the poem is also regular so you'll find that there are mostly ten syllables in each line so in other words there's nothing jarring or out of place either in what the poem is talking about or in the actual construction of the poem itself except of course when we get to the last stanza because the last line has been unlinked from the preceding three now that does appear to be jarring and it must be deliberate because I've just shown you that the poem is really carefully structured so we need to come back later on to the reason why cause Lee has done this okay so that's your general overview and now we can look more specifically at the images used in the poem so I mentioned the fact that the setting is quite vague that contrasts with the very specific images that relate to the people in the poem and to their actions so if we take the first stanza that's all related to the father so we know that the father is 25 he is wearing a tweed suit and men used to wear tweed suits when they went hunting we get the impression then he might be standing we know after all later on he spins a stone along the water and presumably he's starting to do that and we also know as I mentioned before that this dog is trembling at his feet we get the impression that he's standing and the fact that the dog as I said before is obedient and submissive is also telling if you add all these details up you really do get quite a strong impression that the father is a masculine fairly authoritative vigorous figure okay so if we move on to the mother the details are equally telling so she is also youthful she is in a dress not trousers that's a feminine choice her dress is spricht which means it's made out of a material that has a flower pattern on it also feminine she is not standing up presumably she is either sitting down or kneeling down in order to spread the cloth over the grass so that's quite a typically female occupation so already she comes across as quite feminine and then you have this idea of her hair taking on the light presents her as an angelic figure she also seems quite neat and self-contained of already mentioned the fact the orderly way in which the picnic things are laid out but even the way she's dressed is quite oddly so her dress is drawn at the waist so her silhouette is quite definitely defined and then she's paid attention she's put a ribbon in her straw hat so in a way the attention that the mother pays to setting up the picnic stuff and to her own appearance is sort of reflected in the way that the space detailing the very precise aspects of the scene in front of him okay so now cause Lee never married and he was an only child which might partly explain not just the subject matter at the poem but the attention to detail on the poem and the level of really uncool F ID affection and respect he displays for his parents here we also know that course Lee's father died sometime after World War one when course Lee himself was only seven years old so the fact that both his parents are represented as young in this poem indicates that these really startlingly clear visual images are probably drawn from early childhood memory the way his parents were when he was a small child in the 1920s maybe when he was five or six okay so the fact that these images are drawn from childhood memories is perhaps indicated in some unusual textual details so for example you might have wondered why thermos is capitalized and that's because when course Lee was a child thermos was actually a trademark hence the capitalization it no longer is so we don't capitalize thermos anymore but when when cause Lee was a child he would have seen the word thermos with the Capitals so he's reflecting his childhood memories in the use of this cup capitals possibly then we have the use of capitals in the first stanza genuine Irish tweed so why is that capitalized well a possible explanation was that his father Street suit had a label on the lining of the coat stating with capitals obviously that it was genuine Irish tweed and that's the kind of detail a really young child would notice and be fascinated by and remember so in this way cause Lee might perhaps be indicating that this verbal snapshot of his father is drawn from a precise natural childhood memory but is this all the poem is about as it just about an evocation of memories well probably not when you wrote the poem cause Lee was 61 years old and his mother had lived to a very old age but she was also dead so he's has no immediate family all had no immediate family children or grandchildren so he was looking back to his memories but when he did look forward he was probably thinking about well death and what might take place after that so cause Lee is suggesting that his poem is a vision in many ways throughout the text a vision of the afterlife in other words perhaps right from the title okay so Eden Roc this place doesn't actually exist cause Lee did admit to a journalist they learned that he completely made it up so the fact that he's made up this place name and that he repeats the place name again in the first line of the poem means that the setting of the picnic and the poem is is kind of anchored in an alternative universe or reality the picnics no longer just a memory it's arguably a depiction of a vision of what might be what actually is on a different plane of reality okay so we've looked at what Eden means but what does Rock mean given that this is a fictitious place name we can work out what why is it that he chose these words well we kind of know why he chose Eden but what about rock since Eden has a biblical reference does Rock have a biblical reference as well well yes it does so in the Bible the Lord is often referred to as a rock okay so in Psalm 18 – God is referred to as my rock my fortress and my deliverer the Lord is my rock so in whom I take refuge so we use rock in a similar way today if you say someone as a he's my rock it means that they're reliable and supportive so course Lee is probably uniting these two biblical references first to show that his parents offer him solace and comfort as well as support and security and secondly it also suggests at the place where they are picnicking is a place of security or solace or a paradise or heaven if you like okay so if Causley further separates his depiction from memory by his use of the present tense throughout the poem so at the first line they are waiting for me okay so we have the past tense here but again back to the present tense pause t sky whitens mother shades our eyes you get the idea so memory relates to the past so the use of the present tense means something different it means that what is happening in the poem is happening now as you read it or as the speaker speaks it so there's a real sense of immediacy here and not of nostalgia and that's caused by the use of the present tense so cause we further differentiate she's vision of his father from his memory of his father by the use of the word still okay still and same so what he's implying by the use of those two words is that he's basically saying look here is my father once more he's actually in front of me see he's got the same suit on and his dog is still 2 years old so there are further language details that add to the impression this picnic takes place on a different plane of existence or again heaven if you like there's this really weird detail of the sky being lit by three suns this is a surreal image that suggests that it's not a memory that he's creating here but a vision and you notice that the three suns are in a white sky so that mimics the three plates and the cups on the white cloth on the grass so you've got three sets of threes all mimicking each other now three is really important in the Christian religion as it suggests Trinity the Trinity God Jesus and the Holy Spirit and then you get this odd phrase the drifted stream why is it odd well to drift means to move slowly so a stream can move slowly and we use the present participle drifting to denote that but here you've got the use of the past participle drifted so that's an unusual word choice and what that does is to suggest that the stream was moving slowly but is no longer it's as if it has been frozen in in an eternal present so that usage drifted stream combined with leisurely and slowly that creates a sense of timelessness and that's something we would definitely associate with heaven so in this context of surreal imagery and Christian references we get back to this notion of crossing stream remember the speakers on one side and the parents on another so that becomes in the context of the poem as a whole a metaphor for like crossing over to the other side or more literally speaking dying passing through death to the beyond or whatever that might be so in the Bible crossing rivers is always a transition from sin to salvation from death to life and the River Jordan is often mentioned in the Bible and crossing the river Jordan is like the phrase passing over a euphemism so for dying so essentially when the speaker is being invited by his parents to cross over that's a metaphor for him being invited to dine to enter paradise and that explains this structural feature that we noted before of the last line being unlinked from the other three lines in the final stanza so this last line represents the solitude of the speaker distanced by life from his parents who are dead now Rob rather existing on the perfect plane that is heaven so the speaker in the last line has to make a decision and the tone of this last line can be read as distrustful or hesitant the speaker's still on the verge of making a choice that the reader never gets to hear in this way the poem moves from the real certainty of these very concrete specific physical images to like the internal emotional uncertainty of the end and there are other ways of reading this ending and the power but that's all I've got time for now I hope you found this lesson useful if you did like my video or subscribe bye for now

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