"In Mrs Tilscher's class" by Carol Ann Duffy is about rites of passage, the transition from childhood to adolescence and the things we learn at school, from our teachers and from our peers. Duffy writes this accessible poem using a variety of techniques that make it a memorable read.
The opening stanza has no real hint of what is to come: Duffy shows us a typical day in Mrs. Tilscher's class:You could travel up the Blue Nilewith your finger, tracing the routewhile Mrs Tilscher chanted the scenery.
Throughout the poem Duffy refers to "you"- while really she is referring to her own memories- but by writing in the second person she invites us to share her experience. The image itself tells of the wrapped concentration of the children, although I think that primary seven is a little old to be so advently following the river "with your finger", it does convey the level of eagerness of the children. The use of the enjambment adding to feeling of the journey that Mrs Tilscher has brought to life for them as seen also by the word choice in the first line that gives it a sense of actually taking the journey themselves. The use of the punctuation in the following line- "Tana. Ethiopia. Khartoum. Aswân"- gives the line the rhythm of the chant, once more bring the lesson to life for the reader by further engaging them with the memory of the teacher's chant. From there it continues, "That for an hour, then a skittle of milk", suggesting the variation in her lessons, keeping them interesting for the children. Even the description of the milk has its connotation in fun due to the shape of the bottle and the game of skittles. Then going back to talk about "The chalky Pyramids rubbed into dust" where the image has the idea of the pyramids really being there and then fading into dust through the ending of the previous lesson, strengthening the idea that Mrs Tilscher brought the lessons to life for her class. Duffy remembers "a window [was] opened with a long pole" suggesting...
Bibliography: In Mrs Tilscher 's Class" by C.A. DuffyMrs Ford 's class noteshttp://learn.embc.org.uk/3/3391.htm
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