Form and structure

This is an autobiographical poem so the poet employs a first person narrative stance.

Like all MacCaig poetry, part of its success lies in his skilful and effective use of accessible language.

Writing in free verse helps to create a conversational style and tone, while the use of enjambment and repetition allow him to emphasise key aspects of the poem.

The poem is divided into five stanzas, each with a specific focus:

  • The first introduces the subject of the poem - Aunt Julia.
  • The second describes her physical appearance and the objects MacCaig most strongly associates with her.
  • In the third stanza, the perspective moves to the way the poet felt when he visited her.
  • In the fourth, he uses personification to create a sense of her character.
  • The concluding stanza reflects his frustration that he could not communicate effectively with his aunt while she was alive. It also expresses his enduring affection and admiration for her.