“Out of the Blue Extract” Analysis Using SMILE: Poetry (English Literature)

OUT OF THE BLUE EXTRACT ANALYSIS So we look now at extract from ‘Out of the
Blue’. If you haven’t seen the You Tube version of this with verses from Simon Armitage’s
poem, I thoroughly suggest you do. I think this section is on the third video. You just
put an extract from ‘Out of the Blue’ and look for the third of four. It’s awesome
and very, very haunting. So we look here; and I think just reading
that it’ll really kind of set you up before you actually try and look at this. So first of all in the structure we’ve got
a monologue and that’s really good because it allows us to get the thoughts, the exact
thought of actually what’s going on and obviously this is really about personal perspectives
so that’s really important, obviously it’s put to us in a monologue. The structure in the title ‘Out of the Blue’,
I think that’s really interesting, it’s got three meanings. The idea is the strike
was out of the blue in terms of you weren’t expecting it and the phrase out of the blue
to do with that surprise, but that’s not just the surprise of the tag, that’s obviously
the surprise of the person living their day with what happened and obviously out of the
blue means something coming out of the sky. So you’ve got three ways to actually extract
different ideas from there. The other structure point I actually want
to mention is the questions. So we have a question here and we have a longer question
here and we have a question just down here as well, and all of them are referencing the
reader in the second person. Or basically it could be us as reader, but also it’s
maybe a person that he was highlighting on, this person in the building, in one of the
towers actually, highlighting when he actually looked out of the window and saw. So anyway
the questions really give us a kind us a real world there in ourselves, asking us how much
have we thought of the victims, but also in terms of on the day when he was looking down,
if you can imagine those people looking down, they would have been thinking who there can
help them from anyone that they saw. Meaning then. Well obviously one of the things
is about personal perspectives, thinking about 9/11 and thinking about other atrocities that
happen where people are really sad casualties and we actually look at trying to think about
how they would have been, obviously the recent incident last year in Norway springs to mind
as well, just about how reading about personal perspectives of people who survived, it’s
just unbelievable. So really looking at perspectives in atrocities is a really strong theme here
and the feelings and ideas that someone goes through to an extent, because we don’t have
that many survivors’ tales I don’t believe, from this particular atrocity. The idea as well of things being hard to fathom.
Are we really seeing what we’re seeing? And a lot of the images you see from the day,
you get that feeling but here you get the idea of does anyone see the soul worth saving?
You have noticed there is this cotton shirt twirling and then he actually says ‘do you
think it’s just a man shaking crumbs out of his shirt or hanging out washing?’ It’s
just the idea of seeing that and obviously for so many people just the idea of what happened
is just unbelievable, just to think that that could come out just on a normal day. And obviously we’ve got the idea coming
through of the human courage. He’s trying here to actually stay alive and he’s trying
to actually get peoples’ attention here by the fact that he’s waving etc., and everything
around him is really, obviously it’s a terrible situation and he says ‘I’m not the point
of launching and leaving. I’m not trying to surrender’ and obviously the surrender
he’s talking about is his life, he’s not trying to give, etc., etc., and obviously
he tries to get peoples’ attention and get to the window and save himself as best he
can but then it doesn’t work that way. But then we in ourselves, afterwards we know about
the rescue attempts and we know that some people were saved in the rubble, etc., etc.
It just shows the human courage of what people would actually do and how they would go about
trying to save themselves and saving others. So the images that we have. Well we’ve got
the image of the shirt, the most powerful one, especially if you remember it from the
videos or if you watch the video with the poem. The idea of the shirt there. We’ve
got the white cotton shirt, this person, the idea of white here, maybe this person’s
completely innocent of any crime of execution. Why is he there? The idea of the actual shirt,
we all remember the image again. It’s really actually interesting to try and talk about
something that we have such an amazing array of cultural references for in that sense,
because obviously the images are imprinted on us, so when we read this we know exactly
what he’s talking about, we don’t actually need to imagine it. Normally when images are
presented to us, we’re getting scenes presented to try and help us think about all of this,
but that shirt coming out there and we’re watching it twirl and the man falling, two
of the most striking images from the day, among hundreds, it’s really gives us the
idea of so many things. We’ve got the image of the height and obviously
the danger that the person’s in. So the danger that they’re in; we’ve got the
heat and it’s searing and we’ve also got the depth when he’s actually looking down
from where he is in the building. It’s appalling and it’s just shocking and it probably makes
him feel sick along with everything else that’s going on. And then the smoke that comes from
it, because obviously the inhalation there is making him more and more tired, which is
one of the other images that we get, the idea of him being weak and ultimately helpless.
Because we’ve got ‘the sirens below me wailing’, there’s all this kind of hubbub
down below, lots going on, but nothing actually coming to him, he can’t actually do anything
and he’s trapped. I think this is really interesting here, the
reference here; is this a reference now or was this whole thing a reference to the reader?
Or was it a reference to a loved one that he’s actually thinking about? And was it
a loved one that he was actually trying to hold himself together – sorry I should have
put that in meanings, I’ll add it now. That’s something that you can read into and if you
look at it that way it does happen. Here it’s like ‘does anyone see a soul worth saving?’
so it’s more directly at the reader and the people below. But in that one ‘do you
see my love?’, could that be just in terms of someone specific he was actually thinking
about? And obviously with the ‘your’ there, it’s a specific person. So again we’ve
got this ambiguity of exactly who it’s too. You could look at it that way. So it’s thoughts
to a loved one and times like that is another one of the meanings. So the language then. We’ve got a lot of
repetition all the way through, which really kind of just strikes how shocked the person
is and how disorientated they are and obviously as they’re talking about this. So we’ve
got the ‘waving, waving’ and we’ve got ‘believing, believing’ and ‘tiring,
tiring’ and it’s just again like shock in both. The ‘waving, waving’ he’s just
continuously doing everything he can to get attention. The ‘believing, believing’
again is just talking about the peoples’ shock in how they actually feel about it and
the ‘tiring, tiring’ is obviously how his body is actually giving up because of
the smoke inhalation and whatever else. So it’s really powerful all the way through. You’ve got alliteration right here at the
beginning which just kind of gives the movement of the shirt, it just really brings home to
the movement of the shirt, that it’s twirling and turning and it’s kind of doing both
and obviously a twirl is probably supposed to be more fancy but turning is just kind
of like a more monotonous thing. Maybe he was doing it in a certain rhythm at first
and then as he goes through, his wrist just becomes more and more tired and it’s more
of a turn that a twirl. Perhaps you could read that that way. We’ve also got the – I think this is just
a brilliant word – use of the word ‘gills’ when it’s actually talking about the – ‘here
in the gills I am still breathing’, because it’s actually a direct reference to the
building and obviously the way it’s shaped with the fascia and the outside of the building.
One of them was sticking out more if you look at the actual building, and then it’s like
an indent and then out and then indent and then out, and so it kind of looks like the
lines across a fish’s gills. And obviously because there’s smoke coming out of there,
it’s the idea of them working like gills is really, really important because that idea
of the thing breathing in some way, but obviously it breathing with the smoke, because obviously
this man can’t breathe. So there’s a link there to life and a link there to just the
ebb that he’s going through, because he can’t breathe in that situation, much the
same as we can’t breathe in water and obviously somebody turned the building into this thing,
like a fish’s gills, that we can’t breathe in. I think it’s a genius way of actually
characterising that because obviously the man can’t breathe and that’s why he’s
starting to flag and tire. We’ve got the second person reference which
I’ve touched on briefly with the idea of a loved one just towards the end, but obviously
the second person reference right from the beginning, ‘you’ve picked me out’, he’s
like ‘you can see me, what are you going to do? How are you going to get me?’ And
‘when will you come? How are you going to rescue me?’ etc., putting us right there.
And then ‘do you think?’ So all of these are kind of really putting us in there, really
trying to make us understand what it is we think we are saying and what is actually happening.
Again, it just gets us thinking about
the shock of the day to day life. Like ‘do you think you are watching?’ It’s like,
‘how could I be watching someone who possibly could be about to jump to his death?’, whenever
I personally see one of those videos, it’s just unbelievable. In fact there’s a great
documentary about the day; I think it was done by the Discovery Channel or the History
Channel; and it was just like a timeline catalogue of the day and it just shows you all the most
powerful images of the day. It was unbelievable, there were probably about ten times while
I was watching it where I was just in absolute shock. Just remembering it all is unbelievable.
So yes, the second person reference. And obviously at the end, I think there’s
one more time when we’ve got another reference – forgive me it doesn’t actually come
to me right now. Yes, so the effect on the reader then. We’ve
got the remembering of the victims and the ordeal obviously, that’s the first thing
that it actually makes us do and think about what it must have been like at the moment
when the building – there’s so many people who still can’t watch stuff and think about
this, it’s really, really…let’s hope it’s just a once in a lifetime thing. But
what happened in Norway and we’ve still got to trust is happening. Then obviously the shock, just the reminders
of how shocking this was and peoples’ feelings and the attempts and the life that people
were actually going through. And then I know this is probably not the most sensitive thing
to say, but it just reminded you of the change, how your life can change in a second, anything
can happen. Obviously in this extent this person’s life has changed, obviously they’re
going to die and so many millions of people were affected by what happened that day. But
it just reminds you just out of the blue something can just happen and say like anyone who is
involved in a car crash or an accident or involved in anything, so many small things
can happen. Sorry I can just think of so many things in my head that they don’t compare
in any way to this, so I don’t really want to mention them. But just that idea of just
change being able to come. This poem might get you thinking about that as well. Yes, great poem. And again like I said, if
you get a chance to watch the videos on You Tube, the Commission Series, it’s mind blowing. 1

6 thoughts on ““Out of the Blue Extract” Analysis Using SMILE: Poetry (English Literature)

  1. Sally helpful video. What do you think about the 'building burning' part of the poem? Why building burning and not burning building as we would normally have worded it?

  2. something i noticed was the constant repetition of the two words in every other line 'building burning' 'twirling turning' 'waving waving' (also the repetition of waving waving straight after each other could signify the desperation of the narrator) ' watching watching' etcetc could link to the two towers.

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