"The Bystander" - Rosemary Dobson
"The Bystander" describes the significance of the insignificant characters in paintings. The speaker in the poem is that figure painted behind/beside the subjects of artworks, where he/it speaks out of its existence to us: in the form of a wing, a squire, a distant figure or part of a crowd.
This insignificant character reflects upon several scenes he/it has stood in, such as the two slaughter of Innocents (i.e. the murder of infants from both Old and New Testament Bibles), and settings such as 'the Garden' (of Eden). The ignorant speaker who recalls the voice, which said "Eat", in 'the Garden', gives these certain clues to the learned reader.
Dobson has placed remote rhyming in this poem, as the final words of each second and fifth line (of each stanza) are whole rhymes. These rhymes are one-syllable 'masculine', which is strong to the ear, however, the rhyming scheme is less obvious due to Dobson's choosing: a reflection to the distant "Bystander" figure who is barely there in a painting.
In order to emphasise upon the separated rhymes, they lie at the end, where the reader stops to take a breath. This pattern is echoed throughout all four stanzas. There is also the occasional use of capital letters to specify particular examples, as like the "Garden".
There is a constant reference to Classical Mythology such as Icarus and the slaughtered Innocents. Perhaps these scenes were mentioned to portray the Bystander's ignorance, as he/it does not describe their great significance to history and therefore only briefly points them out.
To bring attention to some examples of the Bystander's forms, two lines contain alliteration, "silly soul" and "dullard dreaming". Furthermore, Dobson has used three types of imagery which all relate, "Rapt at the sky", "a bird" and "an...