Stanzas four and five

Stanza four

Stanza four again begins in a sombre manner. The mother is waking up, perhaps after an operation, groggy and low. However, despite her fragile state, she speaks with a commanding tone:

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'What I want to know' she says 'is this:

The colon here is the pivotal moment in the poem. It marks the mother’s change from ‘fading’ invalid to strong individual who refuses to give in to her situation. where's the big brandy, the generous gin... she demands. Alliteration emphasises their size and their seeming inappropriateness to the circumstances.

She then lists alternative ‘gifts’ finishing with a dirty big meringue. It is as if this is the worst thing she can think of to challenge the dull items surrounding her bedside. Meringues suggest sweet frivolity. This one is dirty and big - giving it an almost sinful resonance. No doubt it would shock the swarm of eyes gathered around her.

Stanza five

This stanza continues the mother's unconventional wishes. She demands a luxury, rejecting the mundane.

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Grapes have no imagination

The personification implies that, to her, these items are impersonal - no thought has gone into them. They lack character and do nothing to stimulate her or coax her out of her weakened state.

They're just green she adds, suggesting they are boring, monotone and predictable, like her days in hospital.

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Tell him: stop the neighbours coming

The final line signals an end of normality. She is fed up with visitors staring at her. Is this because she is too ill to see them? Or is she sick of being made to feel like a passive object, lying there while folk surround her with their concern?