Analysis of Norman McCaig’s Summer Farm by Claire Wong.
Summary: McCaig describes his farm. He wonders whether he should sell his farm and continue writing or keep it as his ancestors worked there. He is extremely confused and uncertain about what decision to make.
Stanza 1. It begins with an oxymoron. “Straws like tame lightnings lie about the grass/ And hang zigzag on hedges.” Not only is the farm described; it depicts the series of contrasts that plague McCaig’s mind. Straws exude an aura of domesticity, nature and comfort, but at the same time are as dangerous as lightning. This means that something fearsome has become a cliché, that is to say, his thoughts which move abruptly and not smoothly like zigzags. They are tame because he decision he must make is not dangerous but at the same time can affect his life forever. They sear through his heart like lightning. The position of hanging is uncertain and not stable, reflecting his thoughts. “Green as glass/ The water in the horse-trough shines.” Again we are presented with an oxymoron. Water is typically seen as shiny and glassy but here it is also countered by the murky green, reflecting the uncertainty of his future. When water is compared to a crystal ball, it could be seen as an instrument of future-gazing. The clarity, however, is his awareness of the consequences of selling his farm or maintaining it. “Nine ducks go wobbling by in two straight lines.” Nine is an odd number, signifying disharmony. Yet they wobble in “two straight lines,” an impossible task. This reflects the conflicting sides of a situation when it can be seen in two opposing ways. The “two straight line” symbolize McCaig’s two lines of thought what will happen if he chooses to keep the farm, and what will happen if he sells it to continue writing. Despite his ability to see both sides of the question, his mind wobbles like the ducks in indecision.
Stanza 2. “A hen stares at nothing with one...