‘Last Act’ by Owen Sheers: analysis

The title is paradoxical with the position of the poem in the collection – Last Act at the beginning. Perhaps Sheers is telling us that this collection will not be dealing with the conventional topics and ideas, but rather making us question more complex ideas. The poem is one stanza of free verse, and sounds more chatty and informal than the rest of the collection.

In this poem, like History, Sheers addresses the reader directly: ‘don’t be surprised it has taken so long to show you these’. ‘These’ is referring to the collection, and so Sheers is suggesting the period of time between the publishing of Skirrid Hill and his previous collection. If so, then ‘the actor, bowing as himself for the first time all night’ could be referring to his previous collection – The Blue Book, which received quite a lot of criticismand suggesting Skirrid Hill is his first, genuine collection.

Sheers is perhaps suggesting a writer’s-block as his reason for the delay of Skirrid Hill: ‘the stuck record of my tongue’.

Many of the words used in this poem, reflect the themes and ideas in the following poems. For example theatre: ‘act’, ‘curtain’, ‘scenes’ and ‘spotlight’.


One thought on “‘Last Act’ by Owen Sheers: analysis

  1. The last paragraph is probably the most important one – and needs to be developed – it certainly reminds the reader of Shakespeare’s “all the world’s a stage” and introduces the idea of life being an ‘act’ where by we adopt ‘roles’ etc, lives can be divided into ‘acts’/’scenes’ etc. It also conjures up ideas of an anthology that is going to be a series of snapshots of ‘roles’ we play (in relationships, in the work place etc) and as with all photographs, the memories attached to them which has helped shape us.
    you need to be taking the time to fully develop ideas at this stage – avoid all vague comments, and everything you comment on MUST have an explanation about HOW it adds the meaning of the whole poem.

    Liked by 1 person

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