They Did Not Expect This - Vernon Scannell
They did not expect this. Being neither wise nor brave
And wearing only the beauty of youth's season
They took the first turning quite unquestioningly
And walked quickly without looking back even once.
It was of course the wrong turning. First they were nagged
By a small wind that tugged at their clothing like a dog;
Then the rain began and there was no shelter anywhere,
Only the street and the rows of houses stern as soldiers.
Though the blood chilled, the endearing word burnt the tongue.
There were no parks or gardens or public houses:
Midnight settled and the rain paused leaving the city
Enormous and still like a ...view middle of the document...
In this particular poem using this form is an indication of the way that the couple’s marriage goes on and on, always in the same way, with no end in sight. It contrasts with the image of the "wrong turning" and the journey in the first few stanzas.
* “Then the rain began and there was no shelter anywhere, Only the street and the rows of houses stern as soldiers.” – Alone, unaccepted – Maybe forbidden love? – Link to Scanell’s life – Fought in N. Africa & France
* During the war Scannell enlisted in the army, fighting in North Africa and France, where he was wounded. Shortly after the end of the war in Europe he deserted and spent two years on the run, during which time he began to write poetry. He was eventually captured and court-martialled for desertion, after which he spent time in a military hospital – Link to “Only the street and the rows of houses stern as soldiers”
* “Enormous and still like a great sleeping seal.” – Simile?
In the first half of the poem, Scannell uses an extended metaphor of a journey to describe the marriage of the couple. This is complemented by the pathetic fallacy of the weather, of the irritating "small wind" and the "rain". The journey begins accidentally as they take "the first turning quite unquestioningly", representing the way they married: young and without much thought. The scornful "of course" in the first line of the second stanza serves to emphasise the fact that it was "the wrong turning".
In the second half of the poem the couple find "accommodation" (which has two meanings – both somewhere to live, and a compromise between the two of them) in a "cold/Furnished room". The temperature is a reflection of their relationship. Their former "hope" is "stuffed and put on the mantelpiece" like a dead animal. Despite this cold environment, any...