Form and structure

Lochhead uses an interesting structure in this poem. In essence it is really two poems combined - one deals with the Hogmanay traditions and preparations of her childhood while the other deals with the speaker’s relationship with the man who was to become her husband.

By intertwining memories of her past with the present she explores how her memories and experiences influence and inform the future.

Typically of Lochhead, the poem deals with specific details as accurately as she can recall them.

She doesn’t use poetic licence to elaborate or embellish as she believes this ultimately makes poetry untruthful and therefore worthless.

The poem is very visual – she creates three distinct and personal events and allows the reader to share these.

The first memory is watching her mother prepare for the New Year. In the second, time has moved on thirty years and she recalls the Hogmanay party where she met her future husband.

In the third, she moves on to the present day, as she prepares to celebrate this New Year with her husband. The skill and craftsmanship in the poem is evident in the seamless transition between these three events and between the past and present.

As well as creating rich visual detail, Lochhead uses features such as italics to insert different voices into the poem and the first and last stanzas both contain a parenthetical aside.

Though she mostly uses standard English, there are references that are distinctly and instantly recognisable as Scottish. Her use of free verse and punctuation create an accessible, conversational style.