Norman MacCaig's Poetry
Support for studying English GCSE and A Level
Norman MacCaig - 'Summer Farm' - Annotation
Annotation prompts for Norman MacCaig’s ‘Summer Farm’.
‘Summer Farm’ firstly focuses on the detail of the farm before exploring a metaphysical world.
Norman MacCaig (14.11.1910 – 23.01.1996) was a poet from Edinburgh, Scotland. He also spent time in the Scottish Highlands. MacCaig studied classics at university and was a conscientious objector during World War Two. He admired the 17th century metaphysical poet John Donne, and his own poetry has been labelled Metaphysical. MacCaig described his religious beliefs as ‘Zen Calvinism’, showing his humorous yet serious approach to life.
Consider the way the poem moves from physical to imaginative realm. At what point does imaginative take over? Does awareness that the opening was always a memory explain ways the farm was described? At what point(s) in speaker’s life do you think farm featured? Why might it be so important to him / her? To what extent is the farm merely a vehicle for a reflection on speaker’s selfhood: idea that the poem was never about the farm at all (title is misleading).
The annotation prompts are a supportive tool, intended to encourage further analysis and interpretation.