Text 4, Craig Raine, A MARTIAN SENDS A POSTCARD HOME Manuel p.89

Zooming in

1. What are the different things described by the Martian? Show what the details correspond to. A first example is given.
.Stanzas
Thing described
Details
1-3
books
The wings = the pages; their markings = words on the pages; the eyes melting = tears; shrieking without pain = fear; perching on the hand = holding the book
4-5
mist
The sky “rests its soft machine on ground”: mist hides the sky, and it looks as if the clouds had come down
6
rain
television”: rain creates movement as on television
7-8
cars
a lock inside”: the key to start the car; “free the world for movement”: it looks as if the world moved, like a film, not the car
9
watches
a box” = the watch
10-12
telephone
snores”: the dialling tone; “soothe it to sleep with sounds”:
speaking on the telephone; “tickling”: dialling
13-15
toilets
punishment room”: the toilets
16-17
dreams
read about themselves”: dreams
2. List the different ways in which this poem de-familiarizes.
We cannot immediately understand what is being described.
Everything is described through metaphors.
There are several inversions, for example telephones are described as if they were human beings and in a car it is the world that moves.
As we read the poem, we try to understand what sort of society the “Martian” comes from, but we fail to get a clear picture: he does not know about cars or telephones, but uses television for a metaphor; he seems to know about time, but is there rain and mist on Mars?; how does he know about engravings?
3. Classify the metaphors used: which are poetic, which humorous, which strange?
Poetic: for example they “read about themselves in colour” or “like engravings under tissue paper”
Humorous: the telephone that “snores when you pick it up”
Strange: the “soft machine” of the sky