Analysis of History by John Burnside

This article is an analysis of History by John Burnside.

This poem it takes place on September 2001 which is the world trade attacks in New York City and this initiated the UK in the US to go to war with Afghanistan. And what's happening to the speaker in this poem is he's really frightened by what this could mean going to war. He's really hesitant and fearful and frightened and he is at the beach with his family. He reflects on the natural world and how beautiful and meaningful it is to him. This contrast with the fear of what's about to happen.

So the opening of the poem and a lot of the structure of the poem that the stanzas are enchanted. The lines are scattered and this really shows his is broken up thoughts on maybe the wind that's going around the confusion he's feeling.

So the poem opens with natural images of natural beauty. We get the send spinning off in ribbons you get that beautiful alliteration a gasoline, smell quail grey. And it contrasts with people that in gem ward people sits there for a reason we have the natural world we have people and then we have war planes that are moving in the air. And people really sit out nature really sits out the war sets out by not saying it directly. The poet's implicating implying that there's there's some there's a tension there between what's going to happen.

He says on the news in my mind and the muffled read of what may come the fear. The muffled mean it's drowning out. He's trying to drown it he doesn't want to think about what's coming because he's actually afraid of what's going to come and he's and then quickly again he changed his topic.

He's playing in the sand with son Lucas. They're gathering shells and pebbles and then they're finding evidence of life in all this drift work. They're looking at nature closely to discover life and that contrasts with the war with the image of the idea of violence and more at the earlier in the poem.

This life is beautifully described with the imagery snail shell shreds of Razorfish smudges of weed and flesh untied words stone. There's a real celebration of natural beauty here.

Then you get this reflection "at times I think what makes us who we are is neither kinship nor are given States but something lost between the world we own and what we dream about behind the names". What the speakers reflecting on here is the idea that it's not the family or the country. I mean saying who are we well what I am is things that I imagined behind the name. Behind the name st. Andrews West Sands or behind uniting there's this idea of what does that mean does it could be the natural beauty it could be the people that are there. But the words are just names and actually what connects us is our ability to imagine and be connected to other people.

"On days like this our lines raised in the winds our bodies fixed and anchored to the shore" We on days like this we really think about this on what are we where are we where are we from. We're fixed in place ok um but it's our imagination that connects us to other people. Even though we are combined by property with tethers as to gravity and light has most to do with distance and the shapes. We find in water it's we're reading it's our connection to nature that actually tells us where we are not just our city our country it's actually the environment around us and we read it like a book we read nature as if it's a book.

The tides, the colours, rose, petrol, blue jellyfish and all of this combines with his child's you know first nakedness. This image of complete innocence and purity connected with nature. From this, he jumps again and he has a moment of reflection to the reader. And sometimes I'm dizzy actually with fear what was fear of what it's in jammed of losing everything. Everything that his child his family well that's he means literally everything to see sky everything alive forests estuaries. He laments that because we just spend so much time in the virtual world the electronic world.

We don't actually know how its other bodies that drift and tug. Its other bodies that shift us around that move us that affect us. We can barely understand the time when things happen. We see a shift of light um we don't we don't get it we don't even understand what it our local forms of history are. Here we get the title the link to the title.

We don't understand that either and here we get more beautiful natural imagery. The fish lodged in the tide behind the scenes. This wonderful the long insomnia ornamental carp and public parks if you've been to a part you see these big carps. They're swimming around the lake the whole time and he says they're insomnia they're not allowed to sleep. They're captive but they're bright and they're in the slow-burning transistor gold. This wonderful rich imagery of life and energy and value.

Jam jars of spawn and sticklebacks of gold fresh carried from fairgrounds. All this represents men taking nature home but being thrilled by it. And he's somehow drawn to this strange memory the hum of the radio but all of this confused love of nature and memory all climbs and makes him reflect. Look this is the problem I how to be alive and all this gazed upon a cherished world and do no harm. I love the world everyone looks upon it that's a wonderful image gazed upon. Every all human are looking about it constantly and caring for it how can we be here and cause no harm. It doesn't seem possible because we're going to go to war.

There's a sense of helplessness here so we have the fear and now the sense of helplessness what can we do. And he shifts again into an image of a toddler to Beach finding things being curious. We get that curiosity that innocence, his parents on the on the dune slacks with a kite plugged into the sky. Parents are just playing with a kite sailing a kite but they're actually nervous they're all nerve inline their patient and afraid but still through everything attentive to the irredeemable.

Analysis of History by John Burnside

It is the ending that interests me in a lot of these poems because that's where we get the real payoff. Through everything attentive to the irredeemable. It is a difficult last line it's not necessarily beautiful but it sounds nice to read it out loud it's mysterious. And I want to assent to it but what does he actually say we are going to be alive we are going to care as long as and we're going to as long as we can care about focusing on the natural being attentive looking describing being engaged with the world is its own way of protesting this war. And what we're going to do is we're never going to trade that away is that which is permanent it will never be traded. It's irredeemable it will be with us forever.

So the speaker completely anxious and frightened by war. The terror of the destruction of the natural world and by implication, his family chooses to embrace nature and care for it and look at it closely as a way of rejecting the war and the Terrorism that opened palm.


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