A Martian Sends a Postcard Home Craig Raine, 1979 Caxtons are mechanical birds with many wings and some are treasured for their markings– they cause the eyes to melt or the body to shriek without pain. I have never seen one fly, but sometimes they perch on the hand. Mist is when the sky is tired of flight and rests its soft machine on the ground: then the world is dim and bookish like engravings under tissue paper. Rain is when the earth is television. It has the properites of making colours darker. Model T is a room with the lock inside — key is turned to free the world for movement, so quick there is a film to watch for anything missed. But time is tied to the wrist or kept in a box, ticking with impatience. In homes, a haunted apparatus sleeps, that snores when you pick it up. If the ghost cries, they carry it to their lips and soothe it to sleep with sounds. And yet, they wake it up deliberately, by tickling with a finger. Only the young are allowed to suffer openly. Adults go to a punishment room with water but nothing to eat. They lock the door and suffer the noises alone. No one is exempt nd everyone’s pain has a different smell. At night, when all the colours die, they hide in pairs and read about themselves — in colour, with their eyelids shut. A Martian Sends a Postcard Home – Analysis Posted on April 6, 2011 by vincentmli The poem A Martian Sends a Postcard Home by Craig Raine depicts exactly what the title says: a Martian sending a postcard home. However, we must take into consideration that the Martian is actually on Earth, sending a postcard back to his own home; therefore the descriptions of our everyday objects are depicted so bizarrely.
Every detail alludes to items as well as actions seen on Earth. In the poem Raine illustrates several things from the Martian’s perspective: a book, fog, car, clock, telephone, bathroom, and dream. The author applies a very unique technique in describing all these things, he breaks down each object into unrecognisable parts and compares them to something similar. A book is illustrated and compared to a mechanical bird with many wings. The flapping wings of a bird imitates the turning pages of a book.
Raine also says “some are treasured for their markings” referring to that fact that some books are cherished by individuals because of their “markings”, the words written in them. One final things the author does to compare a book to a bird is to remove certain qualities of a bird that don’t fit in the description of a book, such as flight, but also emphasize a similarity; a book sitting compared to a bird perching on someone’s hand. This kind of dismantling of objects and analysing them in a new perspective is done for every object Raine depicts.
Another excellent example of this would be the author’s depiction of a car. The author says, “Model T is a room with a lock inside”, from an outside look, a car is nothing more than an enclosed space, exactly what a room is. Raine removes features of a room that don’t apply to a car, a room doesn’t lock from the inside but a car does. The ending of the poem is the most intriguing since it doesn’t depict anything tangible but rather the concept of dreaming or the action of sleeping. Raine states that “at night when all colours die, they hide in pairs and read about themselves — in colour, with their eyelids shut”.
It is very clear in these last stanza’s Raine is illustrating a scene where two people are sleeping. The night is dark and no colour can be seen; but in our dreams, where we learn or “read” about ourselves, we see in colour. This is the only thing that the author doesn’t compare to another object but simply analyses what dreaming truly is, using the simplest of descriptions. | | | | | | | | | | |– Craig Raine |
A poem I like because of its way of startling us into new ways of looking at things – which is something I feel is very basic to poetry. Startling similes is Craig Raine’s specialty, and this poem in particular displays his skill to such virtuoso effect that it lead to a new school of so-called “Martian” poetry. But I think that Raine is participating in a very ancient poetic ancient tradition. If you look at the poem as a series of riddles to be deciphered by the reader, then that takes us back centuries to the riddle poems in Anglo Saxon literature.
Anyway, have fun decoding the images. Poem Summary Lines 1-6 Based on the first six lines, we understand that the poem will be a description of human culture seen through the eyes of a Martian. The speaker uses the word “Caxtons” to refer to books. Englishman William Caxton, who lived during the fifteenth century, was the first person to print books in English. In these lines, the Martian compares books to birds. Like birds, books have wings (pages), and, like birds, they are marked in ways that give them value.
Birds can be distinguished by their color(s), books by the words they contain. Because the speaker does not know the words for “cry” or “laugh,” he says that books can “cause the eyes to melt / or the body to shriek without pain,” referring to humans’ emotional response when they read books. In lines 5 and 6, the speaker returns again to the comparison of books to birds, focusing on the way in which humans frequently hold books. To the Martian, a book in a person’s hands looks like a bird perching. Lines 7-10 Again, a comparison is made between a manufactured item and a natural thing.
By saying that “Mist is when the sky is tired of flight,” the speaker is suggesting that the sky is like a vessel of some sort, presumably a flying saucer or a spaceship. It is often difficult to see the sky when the ground is shrouded in fog, hence the idea that the sky is resting itself on the ground. In lines 9 and 10, the speaker returns to the image of the book. We can understand this comparison if we see the outlines of things in the world—e. g. , buildings, trees, mountains, etc. —as looking like words, or “engravings under tissue paper. This is a complicated image to visualize, but it deepens our own understanding of how mysterious the earth could be to someone who has never experienced it before. Combined with some of the other descriptions of the natural world, this image, in effect, “de-naturalizes” nature for the reader. Lines 11-12 There are several ways to read these lines. One way is to think of rain as being like a machine, in this case television. Like television, rain makes “colours darker” by shrouding our view of what is really there. This reading also raises the question of what “is” really there, suggesting that reality itself s colored by the cultural lenses one brings to the act of perception. Another way of reading these lines is to think, literally, of the static that frequently appears on television sets. We often refer to such static as rain or snow. Lines 13-16 A Model T is an automobile. Not knowing the words for the parts of a car, the speaker instead refers to it as “a room” (the seats and the space inside the car) “with the lock inside” (the ignition into which the key fits). After the car is started, it moves. The Martian compares the experience of seeing things go by, to “free[ing] the world / for movement … The “film” is the rearview mirror. We can see … “A Martian Sends a Postcard Home” by Craig Raine Upon first read, Craig Raine’s “A Martian Sends A Postcard Home”, that was written in 1979, may seem to be a poem about random happenings on Earth. However, while reading the poem in depth and interpreting the poem it can be read as a Martian that was unfamiliar with Earth and its culture. This poem is filled with metaphors. In Craig Raine’s poem “A Martian Sends A Postcard Home” the very literal in essence it is a Martian writing to his people back home.
The theme of difference is represented by the Martians lack of the proper words and terms to describe everyday things. The Martian in the poem does this because he has a conceptual viewpoint. The first time we see a metaphor is in the first line, “Caxtons are mechanical birds with many wings. ” (1) I interpreted this as somebody must have pointed at a book and called it a Claxton, or just referred to it as a Claxton, but the Martian might have thought it was a mechanical bird, seeing how an open book does resemble a bird with many wings.
The Martian also notices that some books or “mechanical birds” are more important than others because of what is inside. In the next stanza the Martian says books “cause the eyes to melt,” (3) probably referring to people when they cry as they are reading. The next line in that stanza shows that at times the people yell or scream because of the books and what they are reading. In stanza three the Martian has never seen a “mechanical bird” fly but he has seen them perched on hands before. Someone could have construed this stanza as, he never saw a book fly, but he does see them being held by people in their hands.
The… Throughout Craig Raine’s seventeen-stanza poem several functional devices become apparent with defamiliarisation being the most prominent. Raine also utilises alienation to enable the audience to observe Earth and human behaviour from a Martian’s “alien” point of view. Marxist theories aid in the interpretation of this poem in that Raine suggests that the printing presses rule the world- or at least its censorship. Freudian literary theories also come in useful when analysing “A Martian Sends a Postcard Home” especially with the last two stanzas being about the metaphysical world of dreams.
Raine’s unusual world hypothetically assumes a future state, where Martians do exist to the extent that they have landed on Earth and are able to have mail delivered back to their home planet giving the poem a somewhat farcical nature . However this poem makes one of its functions very clear; it raises the question of are we alone in the universe straight to the forefront of our minds for a fresh examination. The structure of “A Martian Sends A Postcard Back Home” is very much like a postcard in itself, only this is a confused postcard. Postcards rarely require a response however, this one certainly does in the form of clarification.
The Martian gets confused with the difference between a baby and a telephone, (st10-12), emphasising the confusion between technology and the natural instigated in stanza one, with “Caxtons” being “mechanical bird[s]”, meaning newspapers and books. The suggestion of literature controlling our emotions brought forth in the early stages of the poem introduces Marxist theory into the poem; ideology in modern capitalist societies suggests that whoever owns the publishing houses controls cultural production, and therefore the strength of capitalism itself .
Also reinforcing Marxist theories throughout the poem is the fact that the poem is stereotypical of all human… Poem Analysis from Bob :. “A Martian Sends a Postcard Home” is a poem with seventeen stanzas. All of the stanzas have two lines. At first the title of this poem was kind of tricky for me because it made me think that it was about an actual Martian. It took me a while to figure out that he was talking about things that happen in everyday life in earth. Basically something a Martian would send home if he was on a vacation to earth is what the poem focuses on.
Analysis Raine uses several riddles in this poem to show what the Martian sees when he comes to earth. He does a very good job in doing this. For example, the first stanza of the poem is talking about a book. Caxton was the first English printer of books. Mechanical birds with wings refers to the pages in a book. By saying they are treasured for their markings means that if a person enjoys reading a book they will treasure it. Raine also refers to a book in the next four lines.
Stanza six comes out straight forward and lets us realize that Raine is talking about fog. It uses words such as clouds. By using context clues we understand the true interpretation. When Raine says “rain is when the earth is television” he means that the TV is snowy. This is a very good metaphor for rain because it does kind of make the TV look like it is raining. The seventh and eighth stanzas are talking about a car. This is simple as Raine refers to “Model T. ” Raine gives good examples of the car in a Martiani?? s eyes.
For instance, “Model T is a room with the locks inside. ” I like this line a lot because I have never seen a car in this way before. Raine says it is a room because you go inside of the car and you are away from the outside world. You need a key to turn the car on and off and to lock the car. In this next stanza Raine did a great job of describing a watch or clock. “Ticking with impatience” is right of the button. That is all a watch and clock do is tick for twenty four hours a day. Stanza ten, eleven, and twelve are on the subject of a telephone.
All the phone is what Raine writes in this poem. It does not do anything until you pick it up and that is what Raine is saying. The cries of the ghost is when it rings. Then you “talk to it”, or answer it and when you are finished “put it back to sleep” or hang it up. Yes, we do “deliberately wake it and tickle it with a finger” when we answer it or call someone else. A “punishment room with just water” is a bathroom. I just love these next three stanzas because I love the bathroom. I just doni?? t think of it as a “punishment room. ” When Raine writes “only the young are allowed to suffer openly” he is talking about a baby getting their diapers changed in the open. Yet adults have to go to the bathroom and suffer our pain alone. Raine had exceptional use of metaphors to describe the bathroom. The last two stanzas are about sleeping and dreaming. “When the colours die” is when we go to bed. “Reading about ourselves with our eyelids shut” is basically saying we are dreaming of ourselves. Raine put this at a good spot in the poem because the end of the poem symbolizes the end of the day.
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