‘The Cockroach’ – Writing Template for ESL students

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The Cockroach by Kevin Halligan

1)      What is the main idea of the poem, and what is it about?

Kevin Halligan’s ‘The Cockroach’ is a poem about   ………………………………………………………………

The central idea of the poem is that ………………………………………………

2)      How do we know that the poem is a metaphor for him and his life?

We know that the poem is a metaphor for him and his life because ………………………………………

3)      Halligan uses a number of verbs to build up a detailed description of the cockroach. Give two examples of the verbs used, and the impact it has one the reader?

To build up a detailed description of the cockroach, Halligan uses a number of verbs. Verbs such as ……………………………….. and …………………………………………have an impact on the reader because ………………………………………………..

4)      Why  do you think that the size of the cockroach is widely exaggerated?

The size of the cockroach is widely exaggerated because ………………………………………………………………

5)      What is the rhyme scheme of the poem? Why do you think that it changes at the end?

The rhyme scheme of the poem is ………………………………  I think it changes at the end of the poem because ………………………

 Analysis -Summary of the poem
“The Cockroach” is a poem that reflects on life simplicity by watching a cockroach movement. The author uses detailed description of cockroach to create a metaphor of him and his life –“Except I thought I recognized myself”. By describing the cockroach frantic movements, Halligan invite us to believe that this is how most of us go about life; not knowing what we are doing or where we are going, yet we seem satisfy to just move about. Although the title tells us that the poem is about a small and almost insignificant insect- a cockroach; none the less, the poem begins by exaggerating the size of it as “a giant cockroach”. This could mean one of two things; one the person is looking at the cockroach really closely or it could imply human’s superiority complex in which we believe ourselves to be superior to all other. Moreover the Halligan uses simple rhymes and rhyme pattern through the poem which is only broken the moment that the speaker stops looking at the cockroach and starts thinking.

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10 thoughts on “‘The Cockroach’ – Writing Template for ESL students

  1. From John S

    Kevin Halligan’s ‘The Cockroach is describing a cockroach running around a room. The central idea of the poem is that there are similarities between the cockroach and human beings. We know that the poem is a metaphor for him and his life because the way the cockroach runs around the room reminds him of how the life of a human being runs. We tend to run in circles and get lost just like the cockroach skirting around the room and ends up being uncertain as to where to go. To build up a detailed description of the cockroach, Halligan uses a number of verbs. Verbs such as ‘skirting’ and ‘circling’ has an impact on the reader that that cockroach is is very active. The size of the cockroach is widely exaggerated since the cockroach is the main character of the poem and it needs more attention, rather than saying ‘Giant Cockroach’. The rhyme scheme of the poem is pace, trace, rings, wings ….

  2. Kevin Halligan’s “The Cockroach” poem is about a cockroach. The central idea of the poem is that a cockroach is running around in a living room. To build up a detail description of the cockroach haligan uses a number of verbs “rings” and “wings”. They have an impact on the reader because he knows how he looks like and what he does. The size of the cockroach is wildly exaggerated because they told you it was big. The rhythm diagram of the poem is a,b,a,b,c,d,c,d,e,f,g,e,g,f. I think it changes at the end of the poem because to trick all the people that it doesn’t have to rhyme to be a poem.

  3. The Cockroach – by Kevin Halligan
    Kevin Halligan’s “The Cockroach” is a poem about a giant cockroach, which was running along the edge looking for his aim in the life. The central idea of the poem is that we might look like cockroach and end up like one of them. We know that the poem is metaphor for him and his life because he is also lost in his own life and is bored, and at the end of the poem he recognises himself as a cockroach. To build up a detailed description of the cockroach, Halligan uses a number of verbs. Verbs such as “skirting” and “circling” have an impact on the reader because they suggest that the cockroach looks very similar to people in their actions. The size of the cockroach is widely exaggerated because the speaker of the poem wants to have our attention, since we never think about insects that disgust us, especially cockroaches. The rhyme scheme of the poem is regular in the beginning, but closer to the end it becomes irregular. I think it changes at the end of the poem because he doesn’t want his poem to be very simple; he is being very enthusiastic and original, compared to the other poets.

  4. The Cockroach by Kevin Halligan

    Kevin Halligan’s ‘The Cockroach’ is a poem about a giant cockroach. The central idea of the poem is that the speaker of the poem and the cockroach are in part similar. We know that the poem is a metaphor for him and his life because in the two last verses, the speaker says “A former life had led to ? I don’t know ; Except I thought I recognised myself”. I think the speaker compares himself to the cockroach because he is bored. Indeed, he compares the cockroach actions with boredom. It’s a metaphor because the speaker doesn’t really have the same life as a cockroach. To build up a detailed description of the cockroach, Halligan uses a number of verbs. Verbs such as “skirting” and “flipping” have an impact on the reader because they suggest that the cockroach makes things similar than a human. The size of the cockroach is widely exaggerated because the speaker personifies him and the insect may be ‘giant’ to be a ‘human’. The rhyme scheme of the poem begins regular in cross rhymes ( A,B,A,B C,D,C,D ) and then, as the poem progresses, it becomes irregular ( the word “shelf” line 10 rimes with “myself”, this last word is only 4 lines after. I think it changes at the end of the poem because the speaker just looks at the cockroach and imagine that it can be him because in the Hindu and Buddhists religious, you are reincarnated in this insect if you make a grave fault in your life. The cockroach is a symbol of humankind. We experience lack of direction in our lives, as well as boredom which can lead us astray and into trouble.

  5. The Cockroach – by Kevin Halligan
    Kevin Halligan’s “The Cockroach” is a poem about a giant cockroach running along the edge of a living room. The central idea of the poem is that the speaker of the poem is comparing a cockroach to himself. We know that the poem is a metaphor for him and his life because on the last line of the poem he says “Except I thought I recognized myself”. Therefore in a way it makes the speaker of the poem and the cockroach have something in common, which in this case is a lack of direction. To build up a description of the cockroach, Halligan uses a number of verbs. Verbs such as “Skirting” and “Circling” have an impact on the reader because suggest that the cockroach was running in circles, turning over and having no control, which leads to a lack of direction. Halligan also personified the cockroach by specifying the gender, he says “at first he seemed quite satisfied to trace”. The size of the cockroach is wildly exaggerated because the speaker of the poem wants to grab the attention of the reader, since the cockroach is an insignificant insect that no one pays attention to. The speaker of the poem also suggests that the cockroach could have been a human kind in his other life (Hindu, Buddhist religious), Halligan emphasizes this idea when he says “Was it due payment for some vicious crime; A former life had led to? I don’t know”. The rhyme scheme of the poem begins regular (ABACBCD) as the poem progresses it becomes irregular (line 10 “shelf” and line 14 “myself”). I suppose that the rhyme scheme changes at the end of the poem because Halligan is actually comparing himself to the cockroach.

  6. The Cockroach by Kevin Halligan
    Kevin Halligan’s The Cockroach is a poem about a giant cockroach. The central idea of the poem is that the act of the cockroach is a symbol of humankind. We know that the poem is a metaphor for him and his life because of a lack of direction as well as boredom shown by the behavior of a cockroach. Also in his poem he said that he sees himself in the cockroach. To build up detailed description of the cockroach, Halligan use a number of verbs. Verbs such as “circling” and “flipping” have an impact on the reader because it suggest that the cockroach is doing something similar thing with the human. The size of a cockroach is widely exaggerated because in the poem said “a giant cockroach” that mean a very big size of a cockroach. The rhyme scheme of the poem changes. It begins regular (A B A B C D C) then as the poem prodressed it becomes irregular. At first it’s describing the act of the cockroach but then I think at the end it change because he recognises himself as being similar with the cockroach.

  7. The Cockroach by Kevin Halligan
    Kevin Halligan’s The Cockroach is a poem about a giant cockroach. The central idea of the poem is that the act of the cockroach is a symbol of humankind. We know that the poem is a metaphor for him and his life because of a lack of direction as well as boredom shown by the behavior of a cockroach. Also in his poem he said that he sees himself in the cockroach. To build up detailed description of the cockroach, Halligan use a number of verbs. Verbs such as “circling” and “flipping” have an impact on the reader because it suggest that the cockroach is doing something similar thing with the human. The size of a cockroach is widely exaggerated because in the poem said “a giant cockroach” that mean a very big size of a cockroach. The rhyme scheme of the poem changes. It begins regular (A B A B C D C) then as the poem prodressed it becomes irregular. At first it’s describing the act of the cockroach but then I think at the end it change because he recognises himself as being similar with the cockroach.

  8. On the first read-through, this poem seems to me to be about just a cockroach. However, the last line: “except I thought I recognised myself” changes everything. By relating himself to the cockroach, the poet creates an extended metaphor- the cockroach represents him. This is supported by the use of personification and anthropomorphism (giving an animal human qualities): “he turned to jog in crooked rings”, “to scratch his wings”. Some of the situations that the cockroach face could also be likened to those that take place in our lives, or more specifically to the poet. One example of this is where the poet writes that the cockroach “looked uncertain where to go”. This could be what happened to the poet at a point in his life, he had a decision to make about which path to go down, what career to take.

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