‘The Equation’ by Owen Sheers: analysis


  • ‘The Equation’: how things work and fit together; the equation of his day/life.
  • 4 stanzas: 3 quintets followed by a one-line stanza.
  • Decasyllabic lines.
  • Enjambment creates deliberate pauses.
  • Metaphysical poet: uses everyday objects to present a more abstract idea or image.
  • Metaphysics: branch of philosophy which deals with first principals of thing including abstract objects.
  • Maths (purest science) is laid against nature à science can’t explain the hen/egg argument à cooking – form of art à mathematician a part of the natural process / nature (egg)


First Stanza

  • ‘Soft afternoons’: a pleasant, enjoyable day.
  • ‘Teaching logarithms’: a maths teacher teaching things that are easy for him, but seem like ‘hieroglyphics’ to his students.
  • ‘Waving away’: like waving away friends – enjoys his job; sad to part away with the information on the board.
  • ‘Hieroglyphics’: past, ancient (link to On Going).


Second Stanza

  • ‘From his suit into overalls’: symbol of change of personality; change of clothes, change of job.
  • ‘Leaking fist’: reference to water; depicts accurate image.
  • ‘A sail of grain’: the exact image of the action of feeding chickens; a perfect description.


Third Stanza

  • ‘To find a way through the dark’: image of a chick finding its way out (being born).
  • ‘Like a magician’: simile; suggest skill and expertise; nature is magic.
  • ‘Just the way of things’: the way of nature; nature always finds its way.


Fourth Stanza

  • ‘One egg’: only one egg after all that work?
  • ‘Brown’: colour of his skin suggest hes an outdoors person.
  • Sum of his whole day.

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