The poems War Photographer by Carol Ann Duffy, A Mother in a Refugee camp by Chinua Achebe and Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night by Dylan Thomas may at first seem to have a little in common. However, although these three poems are literally very different, in both their historical and social context, yet they are all linked by the same theme ‘Strong Emotion’. Strong emotion is a major feeling which can be in any form and can take place at any time. Furthermore this can be a bond which links people together helping us through suffering and hardships. Within this essay I will mainly concentrate on how each poem conveys the strong personal emotions of the poet through literary devices. In addition to the poems from the anthology, three poems have also been chosen for references. These are: Dulce et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen, Stealing by Carol Ann Duffy and The Soldier by Rupert Brooke.
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In Dulce et Decorum Est, Wilfred Owen has describe a gas attack during World War One with his strong emotions. He is strongly denying the concept of serving your country is glorious. The language used in the section about the gas attack represents both the pain of the victims from the gas attack and the effect on those who have seen the scene. ‘Watch the white eyes writhing in his face’ By using the alliteration and put emphasis to the ‘w’ sound it is able to reflect the suffering of the gas victims. This imagery is very powerful because we can imagine the change in the victims face and it also suggests that war is cruel and is a waste of young people’s life.
Similarly, in Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night the poet Dylan Thomas has mentioned about death with strong emotions. However in this poem the relationship is between a son and a father. Also Dylan Thomas is trying to encourage his father to continue his life instead of showing the weaknesses of human race in War Photographer. And by doing so a large variety of literacy technique were used. The iambic pentameter was used throughout the poem which can give a regular beat and rhythm to the readers; this can then help to persuade his father to fight death since the iambic pentameter can give out a continuous sense to the reader. In addition to that, assonance was also used. ‘age, rare, day’ gives out hard sounds when read out which can enhance the effect of iambic pentameter, these punchy sounds also help giving out a stronger rhythm for the poem to increase the sense of persuasion and help amplify the message given to the father. Along with the assonance there was also repetition within the poem ‘do not go gentle into that good night’. This metaphor was used many times, where good night is compared to death, to tell his father not to give up easily and to fight with all his might. Again this is used to give out a stronger sense of persuasion for his father. Furthermore, from the personification ‘old age should burn’ Dylan Thomas is trying to suggest old people should still have the spirit to fight for their life and shouldn’t die so easily and with such apathy. Which from these techniques we can see how much love is expressed through the poem from the son towards the father. And we can see how Dylan Thomas has used the theme of strong emotion in this poem.
In Stealing, Carol Ann Duffy also based this poem with the theme of strong emotion by using symbolization. The snowman, stands as a symbol for the loneliness of the character’s situation. Because the character destroys the snowman ‘booted him. Again. Again.’ it is also a symbol to indicate how violent the speaker is. These symbols are powerful because readers are shown the speakers loneliness, where he/she needs to steal a snowman as a mate to escape loneliness.
In comparison to the others, A mother in a refugee camp discusses more about love during a war. When the mother is trying to take care of her son in a refugee camp, where every step they take is very important to them because one would die at anytime. And from the structure of poem, we could see that there is only one whole continuous stanza and only two long sentences which connotes there is no end to suffering during that time and death is unavoidable. In addition this long, complex, multi-clause sentence suggests the long, drawn-out suffering of someone dying from starvation. The alliteration ‘behind blown-empty bellies’ also shows the scene of a baby in a refugee camp. The hollow vowel sounds ‘e, i, o’ and the plosive alliteration ‘b’ sound suggest the emptiness of the children’s stomachs. How the baby is suffering from long term starvation causing his abdominal to raise up, which can then suggest the baby itself would suffer from death at any moment. There is also an irony, these bellies look full but in reality they are empty. Additionally , the juxtaposition ‘The air was heavy’ help connotes how bad the situation is within the refugee camp, with the lack of hygiene it will increase the mortality of people this can then suggest people should value every single moment of their life because many people are currently dying within the camp. This juxtaposition is very powerful because the unpleasant sensory appeal towards the smell is very strong. The comparatives from the poem ‘In their former life this was perhaps a little daily act of no consequences’ this mother, despite the imminent death of her son, is still lavishing love on him, by combing his hair. This again shows how deadly the situation is, where a close family member might die in any minute, therefore they need to treasure every time they have together in the refugee camp. Here the poet is describing the famine caused by war (Biafran War) in his native Nigeria. His detailed description illustrates his outrage at the suffering cause by war. And this strong emotion from the poet is effectively passed on to the readers by these literary devices.
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In The Soldier, Rupert Brooke writes about a soldier who loves his own country. And if he should die in a far away battlefield people should still recognize him as a British. Showing how much faith the soldier has towards his country. ‘Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.’ This strong image creates a sense of peacefulness and a unity with nature. This shows England to be more superior to other places. And force readers to see the place in the same light as the poet.
In conclusion, from the research conducted for the three poems. We can see that these poets have used a variety of structural and literary devices to highlight the power of strong emotions behind each poem. From War Photographer, Carol Ann Duffy has covey the misery cause by war in a very emotional way. As well as in Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night the theme was also strong emotions however the idea of the poem was different. Likewise in A Mother in a Refugee Camp strong emotions was also the main theme of the poem. Therefore, strong emotions were the main theme of all three poems and it has provokes a deep emotional response from the readers.
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