Interpretations

Word cloud of keywords and phrases from the poem Tissue

Interpreting and analysing a poem is not necessarily a matter of finding the right answer.

Poems are complex creations and are open to many different interpretations. Your interpretation is as valid as anyone else's - as long as you can back it up with suitable evidence from the text.

Remember to avoid simply identifying what techniques or approaches poets use. Aim to show an understanding of how form, language and structure create meanings and effects.

Below are some differing interpretations of the poem. How would you interpret the poem?

Examples

Interpretation of the lines: 'Paper that lets the light/ shine through, this/ is what could alter things'

InterpretationReason for interpretation
The light that shines through the paper represents God.'The light' is often used as a symbol of truth, or in religious texts to represent God. In the second stanza the speaker refers to the thin paper of the Qur'an, further supporting the idea that the light, being Allah, or God, is 'what could alter things'.
The thin paper represents old age.As we age, skin becomes thinner and the poem may suggest that when this happens things 'alter' because we gain wisdom.

Interpretation of the lines: 'find a way to trace a grand design/ with living tissue, raise a structure/ never meant to last'

InterpretationReason for interpretation
The speaker says that human life is both a wonderful construction and fleeting.The 'grand design' could refer to the way a life is built, each being unique and 'grand' in its own way, yet 'never meant to last.'
The poet refers to the religious idea that man is made in the image of God.The 'grand design' suggests the perfect image of God that is traced with 'living tissue' in the form of humankind.