John Montague Themes, Imagery, Language 2007

2007 – HL English, Paper 2

Leaving Cert English

Sample Answer

John Montague - 2007

Write a speech to be delivered to your classmates on the impact that John Montague’s poetry had on you. Your answer should focus on both themes and the use of imagery/language. Support your points with the aid of suitable reference to the poems on your course.

A2 Answer – See what simple mistakes were made which cost this student their A1.

Ladies, Gentlemen and friends, I would like to give a speech on the impact that John Montague’s poetry has had on me. John Montague’s poetry deals with many themes, including the figures of his childhood (Like Dolmens Round My Childhood, The Wild Dog Rose), his unusual family (The Cage, The Locket) and nature (Killing the Pig, The Trout).

In dealing with the figures of his childhood, Montague paints a picture of the oddballs in his local neighbourhood that were, to him, mystical figures. In Like Dolmens Round My Childhood, most are considered harmless and maybe slightly senile, like Jamie MacCrystal who “sang to himself, a broken song without tune, without words.” In The Wild Dog Rose however, it is clear that this is a figure that haunted his youth. He describes her desolate, fearful appearance, with “a great hooked nose, the cheeks dewlapped with dirt.” In Like Dolmens Round My Childhood, the old people are being compared to fixed, powerful figures, as if his childhood was placed or trapped between these people: “Like dolmens round my childhood, the old people”. Yet throughout the poem he paints images of outcasts from society who lived “from main road to lane to broken path” cut off from everyone else. The language he uses is almost pitying: “All I could find was her lonely need to deride”. We find much the same in The Wild Dog Rose, where we are first given an image of “the cailleach, that terrible figure who haunted my childhood”. As the story progresses however, we see that she is nothing more than “a human being merely, hurt by event.” The language ...

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