‘Granny’ by Spike Milligan is a three stanza poem that is divided into sets of four lines, or quatrains. These quatrains follow a simple rhyme scheme. They conform to the pattern of AABB CCDD EEFF. This pattern, along with the amusing subject matter, were used in tandem in order to make the poem pleasing for a young reader. Within children’s poetry it is much more common, even in contemporary writing, to make use of a consistent rhyme scheme. Often times, especially when the content is outlandish, it adds to the overall tone and even the moments in which a reader is asked to suspend their disbelief, such is the case with ‘Granny.’
Milligan makes great use of repetition in ‘Granny.’ It becomes quite important as a way to emphasize the power of the wind in the third stanza. It is described as blowing “on” everyone. It does not discriminate, visiting “man,” “beast,” “priest,” “nun.” The repetition in these lines helps build up tension and increase the reader’s opinion of the wind’s power.
The tone of this piece is interesting. The speaker clearly feels pity for “Granny” but doesn’t seem to be doing anything to help her. He is at once thoughtful and disinterested in doing anything more than reporting on what’s happening. The wind is the main focuses of the poem, and the power it has to move, and sometimes push down, people. As mentioned above, there is no limit to who the wind will come to. It is an equalizing force that impacts everyone.
Summary of Granny
The poem begins with the speaker stating that there was a wind that blew through all the “nooks and crannies” in a house. It was able to get into all the little corners and find all the hidden spaces. It also spent a great deal of time bothering “Granny.” It swirled around her body and went into her nose and ears. The wind is described very cunningly as if it was choosing to seek people out and mess with them.
In the next lines, the speaker describes how the wind scared a “vicar.” It was not just a nuisance, it almost caused a great deal of harm. The wind was so strong that it blew the top off the steeple of the church which almost landed on the vicar and some other unnamed people.
The last stanza contains a list-like description of who the wind troubled. These people listed out by the speaker are all different. They range from a “beast” to a “nun.” Finally, the wind makes its way back to Granny. It is so strong that it almost blows her to the ground.
You can read the full poem here.
Analysis of Granny
Through every nook and every cranny
(And up nose as well, I fear)
In the first stanza of ‘Granny’ the speaker begins by describing something moving through “every nook and every cranny.” These are all the small spots within a house or other building that one normally does not consider. The “it” which the speaker refers to, and is soon revealed to be wind, is very skillful and dynamic. The way it is described in ‘Granny’ gives the wind almost a human-like cunning, bordering on malevolence.
The first person the wind seeks out is “poor old Granny.” She is weak, and perhaps an easy target for the wind. It comes to her and flows through her body. It goes, “into each ear” and “up nose as well.” The speaker uses words that suggest he is bothered by these things, but he does nothing more than a report that they’re happening. There is no effort on his part to reach out and help Granny. The disinterest one might detect in his tone is emphasized by the use of parents in the last line of this stanza (and in stanza two). Both times the speaker is adding on a bit of extra information as if it is no big deal. The wind is in her nose and there’s nothing else he needs to add.
All through the night the wind grew worse
Just missing him (and other people)
In the next stanza of ‘Granny’ the speaker describes how some time passed. Throughout the night the wind only grew in strength. There was nothing to stop it, it is a force beyond human control and perhaps that’s why the speaker is so blasé about helping.
These next lines speak on the way the wind snuck up on and bothered or hurt other people. They are meant to be amusing, a fact that is increased by the simple and consistent AABB rhyme scheme.
After traveling for a time, the wind finds its way to a “vicar.” It made him curse by damaging the church. The gusts were so strong that they blew off the “top…of the steeple” of the vicar’s church. It was causing surprising things to happen, these include the vicar losing his composure and cursing.
When the steeple fell it come close to harming a number of other people. It just missed the vicar and, in parens, “other people.” It is lucky that something much worse didn’t happen. Since no one was harmed in this incident, the malevolent presence of the wind is decreased. Perhaps sit is just trying to have some fun.
It blew on man, it blew on beast
But most of all, it blew on Granny!
The final stanza makes great use of repetition. Milligan uses the phrase “It blew” three times in this stanza, a perfect example of anaphora. Anaphora is a kind of rhyme in which the beginning word or phrase is repeated in multiple lines. In this case, the phrase “It blew” is used to refer to all the different ways the wind attacked and bothered other people.
The wind goes for other people in the church. There is a priest, a man, and a “beast.” The pairings are interesting. It is likely that Milligan put them together because of their contrasts.
In the last two lines, unfortunately, the wind comes back to Granny. But first, it had to visit “Auntie Fanny.” It blew off her wig, then “blew on Granny.” This probably means that she came close to falling herself, just like the steeple.