Stanza three and four

In stanza three we see that the language barrier was surmounted by an instinctive bond between the speaker and his aunt. As a result, the young boy feels safe and secure in the dark island of the box bed in Aunt Julia’s home.

It is enclosed and comforting. He vividly remembers lying in the absolute darkness listening to crickets being friendly. Again the affection he feels for her is evident in the decision to open this stanza with the pronoun Hers, emphasising her significance to him.

In stanza four, MacCaig employs personification to compare his aunt with the elements he associates with the landscape - the wind and water, and with the objects and garments that most strongly evoke her.

She appears to him to be vivid, larger than life. She is so connected with the landscape that she becomes part of it. The observations are those of a child, fascinated by both the curious and the ordinary.

In the poet's memory Julia becomes intertwined with the natural forces of wind and rain, in the description of the winds pouring wetly/round house-ends. At the same time he remembers her through a series of mundane domestic objects.

She was buckets/and water flouncing into them and also brown eggs, black skirts/and a keeper of threepennybits.

Again the impression conveyed is of a woman in constant motion. The transferred epithet used in the flouncing water gives a description of the deliberate, vigorous way she moved.

These metaphors extend beyond merely describing Julia as an individual. She is also a symbol associated with, or representative of, the particular landscape, lifestyle and culture of this geographical area.

Aunt Julia epitomises the specific way of life of the crofting islanders who worked the land in a harsh, unforgiving climate.

Despite the arduousness of this lifestyle, there is a pride and honesty to this life that the speaker obviously admires.

Julia could even be taken to symbolise the land and elements themselves in this part of the world – difficult at times, yet ultimately providing an honest, noble self-sufficient existence.