Five Senses and Three Queens

  • Rachel Sutton-Spence


Paul Scott’s BSL poem Five Senses (p. 252) personifies the senses in a celebration of all the senses from a Deaf perspective. As with any poem of empowerment for a minority group, this poem confounds the normal expectations of the majority culture. As Deaf people do not hear, surely one of the senses will be missing? This poem shows that nothing is missing. In the poem, the description of the first three senses (Touch, Taste and Smell) establishes common ground between Deaf and hearing people, as everyday experiences are presented imaginatively and humorously. These sections of the poem provide an opportunity to showcase the capabilities of BSL in the hands of a talented poet, but are not especially ‘Deaf-themed’. The turning-point of the poem occurs when one of the hitherto obliging senses is unable to talk to the questioner. The first three senses have been able to explain what they do, but for the Deaf poet, the sense of Hearing cannot explain sound because it has no experience. At this point, we are explicitly presented with the Deaf perspective as Sight helps Hearing to do its job.


Facial Expression Sign Language Middle Finger Dominant Hand Deaf People 
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© Rachel Sutton-Spence 2005

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  • Rachel Sutton-Spence

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