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OCR GCSE English Literature Unseen Poetry | Natural World

pdodd | Sunday December 07, 2014

Categories: KS4, OCR GCSE, OCR GCSE English Literature 2015, Component 02: Exploring Poetry and Shakespeare

Guide Navigation

  • OCR GCSE English Literature Unseen Poetry | How to Use
  • OCR GCSE English Literature Unseen Poetry | Contents of Poems
  • OCR GCSE English Literature Unseen Poetry | Love and Relationships
  • OCR GCSE English Literature Unseen Poetry | Natural World
  • OCR GCSE English Literature Unseen Poetry | Conflict and Power
  • OCR GCSE English Literature Unseen Poetry | Time and Place
  • OCR GCSE English Literature Unseen Poetry | Youth and Age
  • OCR GCSE English Literature Unseen Poetry | Glossary

The Natural World

A

In this poem, John Deane describes a basking shark which is seen off Achill Island, off the Irish coast.

Basking Shark- Achill Island
Where bogland hillocks hid a lake
we placed a tom-cat on a raft; our guns
clawed pellets in his flesh until, his back
arched, the pink tongue bitten through, he drowned.
We fished for gulls with hooks we’d hide
in bread and when they swallowed whole we’d pull;
screaming they sheared like kites above a wild
sea; twine broke and we forgot. Until
that day we swam where a great shark
glided past, dark and silent power
half-hidden through swollen water; stunned
we didn’t shy one stone. Where seas lie calm
dive deep below the surface; silence there
pounds like panic and moist fingers touch.

What is this poem about?

The speaker describes a series of fishing and hunting expeditions and he and his friend appear to care little for nature and show elements of cruelty until one day they come across a shark which is they are in awe of. This encounter and the terror caused by the shark, leads the speaker to have a new found respect for other living things.

The poet’s use of language and structure

This single stanza poem is unrhymed and is an irregular sonnet. There are clearly two halves and this is indicated by the change of tense in lines 12-14. The poet uses powerful imagery throughout and contrasts the beauty of the shark with other living beings. There are also examples of metaphors,...


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