The first stanza is the shortest stanza in the entire poem but it simply defines what the poem is all about. The narrator said ‘Would the child like to leave? It won’t be pleasant. ‘ It tells the reader that a child is about to witness an unpleasant scene although it does not specify it is the birth of a calf. This builds suspense and makes the readers curious to know what happens to the child. The second stanza is the point when the child wanted to leave the cowshed and not witness the birth by saying in line four “not knowing how to leave, once I’d said I’d stay.
” She shows that she did not want to be there anymore during the birth of the animal but had to stay because she already said she wanted to be there. She wanted to be perceived as an adult rather than a child. The poem contain certain phrases such as “chance of horror” which suggests that the child may be terrified of what he may see when the calf is being delivered The third stanza is about how the Vet actually tries to deliver the calf in which the narrator portrays the horrific procedure involved in delivering.
In the first and second line, the poet uses words such as “Gloved to the elbow in blood” to explain the amount of horror she felt when the Vet reached into the back of the cow to pull out the calf. Also, the poet uses the lines “her mysterious collar of muscle” which signifies the entrance of the womb through which the Vet puts his hand to bring out the calf. The poet uses a metaphor ‘cathedral’ which signifies the womb of the cow that is safe and huge.
The Cathedral is a place of worship where Christians feel safe and protected from evil, therefore it makes a huge emphasises when the poet says the mother’s womb is like a cathedral meaning that the child is free from disease, evil and stress associated with life. The poet shows the relief of the narrator in the fourth stanza because the pregnancy has reached the stage when the calf is about to come out and the disturbing part of the delivery procedure was over. The poet uses lines such as “no knife, no severing” to show that there were no surgeries performed during the delivery.
The lines started getting shorter to emphasise this relief. The narrator in line three of the stanza refers to the Vet as a Butcher by saying “no inter-uterine butchery” because he uses scalpel just as the butcher uses sharp blades to cut open animals when performing on them. The poet compares the Vet to a butcher in the verse because just as the butcher, the Vet uses a scalpel to cut open the cow and bring out the calf and the child basically cannot differentiate between a Vet and a Butcher
The last verse is all about the birth of the calf. At this stage the Vet finally brings out the calf from its mother’s womb. The poet describes the cow as a ‘brimming mother’ in the last line of the stanza comparing the female cow to a human mother. This is because when the calf is born the mother cow shows the calf a lot of love and emotion just as the human mother when they give birth to a child. This makes this particular birth more to a human birth and the calf appear more to a child.