Form, structure and language

Form and structure

Tissue is mainly constructed in unrhymed, irregular quatrains. This form can be seen to represent the irregularity of life and the flimsy nature of the tissue paper the poem refers to.

The poem consists of ten stanzas. The first nine stanzas are each four lines long. The final stanza, however, is one line in length, drawing our attention to it. Separating out this line emphasises the connection between paper and skin, showing the significance of human life.

The poem lacks regular rhyme and its rhythm is unsteady, as if to mirror the fluttering of tissue paper. The poet uses enjambment, running meaning between lines and across stanza breaks. This adds to the flowing, delicate nature - both of paper and of the human lives the poet compares the tissue to.


A photo of a man holding up a newspaper that is see-through
The paper in 'Tissue' is described as 'thin' and 'transparent'

The speaker emphasises the delicacy of the paper by using adjectives throughout the poem. The paper is described as 'fine', 'thin' and 'transparent'. The effect of light is also emphasised with 'luminous', 'daylight' and the way the 'sun shines through'.

References to the thin paper used by architects, shopkeepers and bookbinders are made to connect the practical uses of paper. These images provide an extended metaphor for human skin and life.