The Poem “Jac Codi Baw”
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The Poem “Jac Codi Baw” is about a building which is going to be destroyed. The woman, who is narrating the poem, feels very strongly about the building and does not want it to be demolished. This building is very unique and precious to the woman which is why she feels even more strongly, regarding the building following its demolition. The woman shows her anger and disapproval about the building, as she believes the building holds memories, traditions and gives the city its identity, and destroying the building leads to the loss of character and Welsh traditions.
The writer’s main aim is to involve us with the woman’s emotions, thoughts and feelings. The woman wants us to be aware that the building is greatly important to her and wants us to appreciate the value of the building. She wants us to care for the building as thought it is a living thing. The writer’s aim is not only to tell us that the woman is angry, but also to tell us that she is trying to convey a message through the poem saying that we should respect and value buildings.
The method of narration is in first person narrative which is very effective as it helps to achieve his overall aim to convey the woman’s anger and disapproval. This is subjective and allows the narrator to get her view across clearly. The writer has given an insight into the woman’s thoughts and feelings. The form of the poem is free verse, unrestricted by rhyme, which is suitable for this type of poem as it is a serious theme. Consequently, the poem can be more realistic than a humorous poem. As the woman is using pronouns, the readers get an image of how angry she is.
The title, “Jac Codi Baw”, is in Welsh. The words mean ‘Jack raises the dirt.’ The woman may have chosen this title, because people started using it as a nickname for the yellow J.C.B’s. The J.C.B’s were the massive, yellow, earth moving machines which destroyed the large buildings. It is very notable as it links to the building and what the woman is trying to convey. The title gives a good, visual image of the machine and the power it holds to demolish buildings.
In the first sentence, “They have torn down in the space of time it takes to fill a shopping bag, the building that stood beside my car.” The woman is trying to convey how quickly the building has been demolished. The writer has used a pronoun to start the sentence off, making it more personal. Then, the writer has used exaggeration and metaphors comparing the time taken to demolish the building, with the time taken to fill a shopping bag, which is very little time at all. The narrator of the poem is obviously very angry, and conveys her disapproval at how quickly something that was once so permanent, has been destroyed, with little care or respect. The writer uses the word ‘torn’ to try and create a dramatic feel, as it is a long drawn vowel.
The following line is used to try and help the readers get visual image of the building. It is a descriptive line of the general appearance of the building, and also helps the readers get some sense of how old and desolate it is: “It was grown over with ragwort, toadflax and buddleia” – this shows that the building is old and that no-one seems to care about it, as it is overgrown with flowers and weeds. The writer has then tried to personify the building in the next part of the sentence, “windows blind”. This is emotive personification, making us think of the building as a living being, forcing us to sympathise with it, as it is blind, and therefore cannot see what is about to happen, making it more vulnerable. The writer has also used alliteration, “blind with boarding”. It is a harsh sounding ‘b’ creating a harsh atmosphere.
Personification is used again in the next few lines, making us feel guilty, almost as if the building is being murdered – “Other cars had time to drive away.” The narrator makes us feel her anger and disapproval by using pronouns and different techniques. The effect of the first sentence makes us feel as though she is witnessing a murder-the murder of the building. She makes us feel guilty because we have driven off from the building and she is left there helpless, witnessing the demolition of the building.
The poet has used personification in the phrase “Mine is splattered with the stones’ blood, smoky with ghosts.” The poet uses onomatopoeia with the word ‘splattered’. This may suggest that she is very irritated as her car had been covered with the stones from the building. She is also upset because she feels as though the building is a living being, and that it is very valuable to her and yet again, she has to visualise those things happening to her building.
The writer also aims to get her rage through by using alliteration. She has emphasised the’s’. The’s’ is sharp and creates an aggressive atmosphere and involves the reader. The sustained use of personification throughout this poem works well. The poet has kept a rhythm of personification to make the poem seem more dramatic and make the readers involved and enjoy the poem even more.
The poet uses a range of techniques in this line which make the poem seem more powerful. The poet has started the sentence off with a pronoun again. Throughout the poem, the poet emphasises on the pronouns to justify her anger. This leads to the central point of the poem and the writer’s aim.
The connotations of ‘blood’ are emotive, life-threatening, murder, criminal and evil. The effect of the phrase “stones’ blood” makes us think of murder. The quote “smoky with ghosts” make us think that even though the building has been demolished, the presence of it still remains.
In the next sentence “We are used to the slow change that weather brings,” this shows that the narrator has changed her mood. The poet creates a sombre mood instead of the anger and irritation. There is a contrast in these two moods conveying that maybe the narrator is slowly accepting what has happened. The narrator acknowledges that the building has been slowly damaged by weathering but accepts that as a process of change and getting older.
The poet once again uses personification in the next part of the sentence “the gradual death of a generation,” suggesting that the buildings themselves are people, forming a generation of people, as the building has been there for so long.
The poet then recreates a sombre mood by using emotive words to represent the slow demolition of the buildings. The use of the word ‘crumbling’ makes us feel sad, as we picture the building slowly fading away. The poet then contrasts this sad mood with one of bitterness and anger, represented by the following sentence, “inside the car dust lies, grit in my eyes, in my hair”. Grit used to make us try and feel the pain she’s going through, the use of assonance with ‘lies’ and ‘eyes’ creating a powerful effect, along with the repetition of ‘my’.
The next stanza, “he doesn’t care” reveals that the narrator is mindlessly angry, as conveyed by the use of short sentences. The narrator’s use of punctuation has emphasized the resentment and anger. It makes us empathise with the narrator, as we gain some insight into how she feels. The following lines describe how angry she is that the pile-drivers are so disrespectful, and seem to be taking things so light-heartedly. She is annoyed that they don’t care about what they have done. The use of the word ‘pile-drivers’ is also clever as it allows the reader to picture the machines in their heads, and understand the power they hold. The poet has used the next phrase to take the reader through the emotions of everyone involved. He contrasts the ‘cheerful’ pile-driver with the narrator’s grief. He starts the sentence of with cheerful and ends it with grief: “cheerful in his yellow machine, laughing at my grief”.
The phrase “hand-writing of a city” is a metaphor, comparing the building to someone’s hand-writing, showing that it is as unique and characteristic to the city as someone’s hand-writing is to them.
“I can’t laugh.” The narrator wishes to laugh at the pile-driver’s stupidity in demolishing the building, and removing the city’s identity, but is unable to do so, because the remains of the buildings are still present, and something as simple as a laugh would destroy whatever is left. The following sentence describes the remnants of the demolition, “brick dust, shards of Caernarfon slate.” There is an alliteration with the ‘s’ and the words ‘shards’ and ‘slate’ are sharp and harsh, creating a bitter mood. The final sentence, “blood on our hands” conveys the message of guilt. We are all guilty for the crime, for not doing anything to stop the act of murder of the building.