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Poem Comparison Essay

2171 words - 9 pages

“Poetry is boned with ideas, nerved and blooded with emotions, all held together by the delicate, tough skin of words”. Here American poet Paul Engle manages to unveil the crux of poems underneath the stanzas, lines and technicalities- the emotions. The strength of the poem depends on the weaknesses portrayed by the poets’ personas because ultimately the easiest way to control one is to tug a little at their heartstrings. No one has conquered hearts with a gaudy show of strength. Hence, emotive language is a weapon of great effect if wielded correctly, which the poets of the six poems mentioned execute successfully.
Carol Ann Duffy’s ‘War Photographer’ illustrates the emotional suffering ...view middle of the document...

This shocking image of powerlessness painted by Duffy which she juxtaposes to the ‘ordinary pain which simple weather can dispel’ in Rural England’ stresses the insignificance of the usual ‘pain’ of the people in England as well as the readers. It makes our pain almost trivial and pathetic in comparison, Duffy elicits a cringe of shame from the readers with her almost patronising tone to our petty complaints. Furthermore, she subtly manages to accuse the people of ‘England’ and the readers of being ignorant and to an extent, even selfish.
However the suffering isn’t the most emotive aspect of this poem, it’s the indifference shown to the photos of the victims in the war by its viewers. From ‘the hundred agonies’ presented, the ‘editor will pick out five or six for the Sunday’s supplement’. A hundred itself is a small sample of the suffering in the world, and only a snapshot of that ever appears in print. This demeans and belittles the experience of war. Incidentally, the viewers of the photos are also shown to have a very mild reaction to the distressing shots, where their sympathy is short-lived and limited to ‘eyeballs prick[ing] with tears in between the bath and pre-lunch beers.’ Their reaction is momentary as they’re removed from these sufferings- with their luxuries (bath and beers) in ‘Rural England’. The internal rhyme of this sentence creates a jovial tone that once again undermines the serious issue at hand, emphasizing the flippant reaction to the photos. The careful use of ‘eyeball’ also dismisses the reaction as being a physical reaction and not emotional enough, it could be suggested that the readers of the ‘Supplement’ see the photos as a form of entertainment, to make them feel better about themselves. The emotional power of this implied accusation is striking.
This indifference to images of suffering by its viewers is also portrayed in ‘Cameo Appearance’ by Charles Simic, who uses it to make the miseries appear more pathetic because it goes unnoticed by the rest of the world. Being ‘one of the bombed and fleeing humanity’, Simic writes about his firsthand experience of watching fifty seconds of the Belgrade bombing of 1941 as part of a WWII documentary. He implies that his refugee experience is only a ‘cameo appearance’ in the grander agony column because cameos are often uncredited because their appearances are so brief. ‘Not once, could they catch sight of me in that huge gray crowd’, the gray crowd renders an image of conformity where individuals can’t be differentiated or more literally it could connote the overwhelming number of German soldiers who usually wore grey uniform. Throughout the poem, it’s apparent that the media is only focusing on the most horrific or aspects that will provide a good story and not the atrocious situation as a whole. ‘We stood dazed in the burning city...they didn’t film that’ because ‘one take was all they had time for’, the simple language used by Simic conveys his matter-of-fact tone as well...

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