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Skip to 0 minutes and 5 seconds In this Step, we’re going to zoom in a little bit closer into this poem. And we’re going to be doing that in two ways. We’re going to start by thinking about patterns that we find in the poem. And it’s really important that we notice these and we think about why they might be there and what kind of effect they have on us. And then we’re also going to look at puzzles. So we’re going to look at things in the poem that make us look twice, that require a little bit of further thought, a little bit of further exploration and perhaps explanation as well. Let’s start off, then, by thinking about patterns. Now, these can be patterns of sound.

Skip to 0 minutes and 49 seconds They can be patterns of words on the page. And does anybody want to begin by picking out a pattern that they’ve noticed in this poem? I think one that immediately jumped out to me, again, just looking at the poem on paper, was, again, the fact that at the end of each stanza, each one ends with an incomplete sentence. And it just runs on into the first lines of the next stanza, and then it keeps doing it on each one. That was the very first pattern that I think I saw. Right, OK. And that’s really interesting, isn’t it?

Skip to 1 minute and 20 seconds Because if we look at the poem on the page, it’s divided into very– what appear to be very regular stanzas, so four stanzas of four lines, what we call ‘quatrains’, and then one stanza at the end of two lines. So that’s what we call a ‘couplet’. And it looks really regular on the page. And you might expect a kind of regularity, maybe, in the sentences as well. But that’s not what we get at all. Do you want to describe what we get instead? I think– yeah, it– even though on paper, it looks like something which is very regular, four quatrains and ending on a couplet, the whole thing runs. And it does so at an increasing pace, almost.

Skip to 2 minutes and 3 seconds Because again, the way that it’s– the way the punctuation is added into there, it forces you to stop, and then stop, and then a slight pause, and a slight pause, and at the end, there is nothing. So let’s be brave. Let’s try and think about what kind of impact that has on us, that sense of these sentences that often run over the end of lines, that run over the end of stanzas, that run into one another. I think the juxtaposition between how the poem looks, and it looks very ordered, and then the fact that when you read it, it’s not, creates an uncertainty, or maybe things aren’t quite as they appear.

Skip to 2 minutes and 42 seconds So with the narrator, all the stuff at the beginning seems quite positive. But in the end, there is this yearning and this sadness. And they’re trying to say that all is not as it appears. Yeah. I think to add onto that, there’s a miscommunication or a mistranslation towards the end of the poem. So you have ‘I meant’. She repeats the ‘I meant’, and the sentences are longer. So it’s almost as if they’re really

Skip to 3 minutes and 7 seconds reiterating to another person: this is what I actually meant. But it’s all miscommunicated, really. Yeah. That ‘I meant’, ‘I meant’, ‘I meant’ is really striking, isn’t it? I meant this. I meant this. What kind of effect does that have on us, the fact that the poet chooses the same words three times– I meant, I meant, I meant? It really intensifies it, I think, just that phrase ‘I meant’. It really forced– the fact that it is repeated and so close together, each one, and then each very separate, very short sentence– well, not even a sentence, really– it makes it very strong. It makes you really focus on that. It just brings it out from everything else. Yeah.

Skip to 3 minutes and 54 seconds And I suppose the fact that those ‘I meants’ all close around that couplet creates that real sense of emotional intensity around that very last bit of the poem.

Student discussion: Patterns

In the second of our round table discussions, Rebecca, Elliot, Yinka-Maria and Alannah, discuss patterns in ‘Patagonia’.

In their discussion, they reflect on why the author may have included certain patterns, and what effect these have on us as readers.

What patterns did you come across in your reading of ‘Patagonia’? Why do you think you noticed those patterns in particular?

Close reading is about considering the experience of reading a poem – slowly, carefully and reflectively. Puzzles are an important part of that experience. You’ll learn more about in the next Step. Mark this Step complete once you’re ready to move on.

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