- “Bagpipe Music”
- Written by Louise MacNeice
- 34 lines
- Quasi-stanzaic- Alternates between quatrains and couplets in no particular pattern.
- Rhyme Scheme is a very simple aabb
- Accentual meter without a very consistent pattern.
- This poem is a ballad about the moral and existential strife of an industrialized society whether poor or rich.
The poem “Bagpipe Music” is a ballad that does not follow the typical abcb rhyme scheme and does not stick strictly to quatrains. The author, Louise MacNeice, utilizes an aabb rhyme scheme that ties each line directly into the next in a very flowing pattern. A good example of the poems rhyme scheme is in the second stanza the end words are “sofa”, “poker” (pronounced “poka” with scottish accent), “whiskey”, and “fifty” (Boland and Strand p.90). This aabb scheme is consistent throughout the entirety of the poem. The subject matter is not your typical story of an ill-fated main character who battles to his/her tragic ending. Rather, this ballad is more of a philosophical battle with the tragic ending being the depletion of time and wasting away as masses of people do not achieve their dreams. On p. 77, Strand and Boland refer to a ballad as being “So close to a community that it is almost co-authored by it” and this ballad is a prime example of a community’s struggles having a major impact on the story told.
I love the image created by lines 15 and 16 of “Bagpipe Music”. “The Laird o’Phelps spent Hogmanay declaring he was sober, Counted his feet to prove the fact and found he had one foot over.” (Boland and Strand p. 90). This image of a man in such extreme denial of his current state is a distinct image of this ballad. MacNeice uses this man as a symbol for the society in which everyone is in a state of denial in order to protect themselves. No one is truly happy so they abuse alcohol and drugs and try to pretend that the false happiness given to them by the depressant/stimulant is their reality.