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Soap Suds Analysis

Author: poem of Louis MacNeice Type: poem Views: 16

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This brand of soap has the same smell as once in the big
House he visited when he was eight: the walls of the bathroom open
To reveal a lawn where a great yellow ball rolls back through a hoop
To rest at the head of a mallet held in the hands of a child.

And these were the joys of that house: a tower with a telescope;
Two great faded globes, one of the earth, one of the stars;
A stuffed black dog in the hall; a walled garden with bees;
A rabbit warren; a rockery; a vine under glass; the sea.

To which he has now returned. The day of course is fine
And a grown-up voice cries Play! The mallet slowly swings,
Then crack, a great gong booms from the dog-dark hall and the ball
Skims forward through the hoop and then through the next and then

Through hoops where no hoops were and each dissolves in turn
And the grass has grown head-high and an angry voice cries Play!
But the ball is lost and the mallet slipped long since from the hands
Under the running tap that are not the hands of a child.


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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

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The character feels overwhelmed by a scent that triggers a visual longing. He smells then sees what it's like to be 8 again, although everything seems too heavy, too loud, too strong,and distant.
The scent enables him to transfer to a latent desire: his childhood.
I don't believe this poem is really sad, but he is simply enumerating what he possessed as a child. He also shows that as a child he was a daydreamer and still is since he is reminded /to play/ opposed to remembering the detailsof the house and the tower with a telescope and two faded globes then remembers his hands under the running tap.
In this poem, all five senses are magnified : smelling, touching, seeing and hearing.

| Posted on 2015-07-09 | by a guest

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I think that this poem actually has more of a sinister meaning to it. The mentioning of the soap having the same smell as the house is used as a sensory trigger for the moment. There is a sense of sadness, perhaps longing for that time but I think there might be a hint of fear when he mentions the 'dog-black hall' and the 'great gong booms.' For a child loud sounds and darkness are both causes to fear. Also the mentioning of 'an angry voice cries Play!' can be an allusion towards fear of someone. When the malet long since slipped from the hands that are no longer a childs' there is an imagery created of the scene fading away and leaving a pair of hands under a running tap but there doesn't seem to be a pleasant mentioning of the memory after the recall, therefore it could be said that this memory was not a happy one despite the imagery created in stanzas 1 and 2.

| Posted on 2014-02-19 | by a guest

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Whilst the literal meaning of memories of childhood and the reality of adulthood is clear in this poem. I feel a more figurative meaning is portrayed with the metaphor of the outdoor game as a symbol for life and our lack of control of it. This can be seen in the contrast between \'To rest at the head of a mallet held in the hands of a child\' and \'the mallet slipped long since from the hands\'.

| Posted on 2013-05-04 | by a guest

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I believe that this poem is one about MacNeice looking back on a time when he visited a house. While he was at the house, it was the best time of his life. He felt he could really be a kid here. When he goes back as an adult, he wants nothing else but to be a kid again and get to go out and play. But he cant. He has to act like an adult and that kills him inside because he wants nothing more than to go out and play.

| Posted on 2007-03-28 | by a guest

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