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Tissue by Imtiaz Dharker
What is it about?
• The speaker uses tissue paper as an extended
metaphor for life
• She considers how paper can ‘alter th...
What is it about?
• In the final stages of the poem, the poet links
the idea of a building being made from paper
to human ...
Structure
• Unrhymed, irregular quatrains
• Could represent the irregularity of life and the
flimsy nature of the tissue p...
Structure
• Free verse – The poem lacks regular rhythm
and the rhythm is unsteady, as if to mirror the
fluttering of tissu...
Paper that lets the light
shine through, this
is what could alter things.
Paper thinned by age or touching,
Stanza 1
The l...
the kind you find in well-used books,
the back of the Koran, where a hand
has written in the names and histories,
who was ...
the height and weight, who
died where and how, on which sepia date,
pages smoothed and stroked and turned
transparent with...
If buildings were paper, I might
feel their drift, see how easily
they fall away on a sigh, a shift
in the direction of th...
Fine slips from grocery shops
that say how much was sold
and what was paid by credit card
might fly our lives like paper k...
or block, but let the daylight break
through capitals and monoliths,
through the shapes that pride can make,
find a way to...
turned into your skin.
Stanza 10
Final stanza is one line in length –
drawing our attention to it
Separating out this line...
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Tissue

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Tissue

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Tissue

  1. 1. Tissue by Imtiaz Dharker
  2. 2. What is it about? • The speaker uses tissue paper as an extended metaphor for life • She considers how paper can ‘alter things’ and refers to the soft thin paper of religious books, in particular the Koran • There are also real life references to other lasting uses we have for paper in our lives such as maps, receipts and architect drawings. Each of these items is connected to important aspects of life; journeys, money and home. These examples demonstrate how important but also how fragile paper is.
  3. 3. What is it about? • In the final stages of the poem, the poet links the idea of a building being made from paper to human skin, using the words ‘living tissue’ and then ‘your skin’. • This meaning is open to interpretation. • She may be suggesting that the significance of human life will outlast the records we make of it on paper or in buildings. There is also a sense of the fragility of human life, and the fact that not everything can last.
  4. 4. Structure • Unrhymed, irregular quatrains • Could represent the irregularity of life and the flimsy nature of the tissue paper the poem refers to. • The poem consists of 10 stanzas. 9 x 4 lines, then a 1 line stanza – Draws our attention to it • Separating out this line emphasises the connection between paper and skin, showing the significance of human life.
  5. 5. Structure • Free verse – The poem lacks regular rhythm and the rhythm is unsteady, as if to mirror the fluttering of tissue paper. • The poet uses enjambment, running across lines and stanzas. This adds to the flowing, delicate nature – both of paper and of the human lives the poet compares the tissue to.
  6. 6. Paper that lets the light shine through, this is what could alter things. Paper thinned by age or touching, Stanza 1 The light shining in could represent God – Light is often used as a symbol of truth, or in religious texts to represent God In Stz2, speaker refers to pages of the Koran, supporting this idea that the light, being Allah or God, is “what could alter things.” The thin paper represents old age. As we age, skin becomes thinner – Poem may suggest that when this happens things ‘alter’ because we gain wisdom
  7. 7. the kind you find in well-used books, the back of the Koran, where a hand has written in the names and histories, who was born to whom, Stanza 2 Extended metaphor of the paper representing human life – suggestion here is that the human/skin has been touched and used by others, much like the Koran Reference of people, famous people being recorded on paper. Can we outlast these records?
  8. 8. the height and weight, who died where and how, on which sepia date, pages smoothed and stroked and turned transparent with attention. Stanza 3 Reference to the paper of a birth and death certificate Brownish tone – associated with the past. Nostalgia? Extended metaphor used again – Paper is human skin here which is “smoothed and stroked” – we are changed by our interactions with others, physically, socially, emotionally What happens to the paper – Perhaps also the fragility of human life and how people can change
  9. 9. If buildings were paper, I might feel their drift, see how easily they fall away on a sigh, a shift in the direction of the wind. Stanza 4+5 Maps too. The sun shines through their borderlines, the marks that rivers make, roads, railtracks, mountainfolds, Could be a reference to human skin – blemishes, veins, scars, all marks all attained during life? Can human life outlast buildings? Like paper, we are fragile and vulnerable Common metaphor of life being like a journey – Map of a human’s life Sibilance could highlight the sun being the happy times of life? The important times? Repetition of images to do with light
  10. 10. Fine slips from grocery shops that say how much was sold and what was paid by credit card might fly our lives like paper kites. Stanza 6+7 An architect could use all this, place layer over layer, luminous script over numbers over line, and never wish to build again with brick Simile - Idea of wind carrying paper becomes the image of freedom But is it ‘actual’ freedom? Still tied down to something? References to practical uses for paper Paper trail of money - ‘Paper’ money ruling people’s lives Paper has the ability to be more powerful than brick – People’s lives can be more powerful too Another light reference – possible metaphor: providing answers or knowledge
  11. 11. or block, but let the daylight break through capitals and monoliths, through the shapes that pride can make, find a way to trace a grand design Stanza 8+9 with living tissue, raise a structure never meant to last, of paper smoothed and stroked and thinned to be transparent, Extended metaphor used again – paper = human skin, which is touched by others and by life in general The “grand design” could refer to the way a life is built, each being unique and grand in its own way, yet never meant to last The speaker says that human life is both a wonderful construction and fleeting (not around for a long time) The poet refers to the religious idea that man is made in the image of God. The ‘grand design’ suggests the perfect image of God that is traced with ‘living tissue’ in the form of humankind.
  12. 12. turned into your skin. Stanza 10 Final stanza is one line in length – drawing our attention to it Separating out this line emphasises the connection between paper and skin, showing the significance of human life. Direct pronoun “your” speaks to the reader. As we value human life and compare its vulnerability to paper – like the extended metaphor throughout the poem.

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