Poetry in many different ways between many different

Poetry is a way to express different emotions and
themes. The theme of war, suffering, loss, love and cruelty are just a couple
of the common themes that have been presented in many different forms
throughout the six poems I have looked at. Each of these themes takes a form to
portray conflict in many different ways between many different things. The
poems also take the tones of grief, sadness, despair and misery to describe the
conflict each poet is trying to get across to the readers. ‘War Photographer’,
‘A Mother in a Refugee Camp’ and ‘Prayer Before Birth’ all have the common
theme of war and death. The loneliness and memories of war and suffering
expressed in ‘War Photographer’ as the photographer tries to let go and move on
from that horrible time are also explored in ‘A Mother in a Refugee Camp’ by the
mother’s grief as she is trying so hard to move past her son’s cruel death.


The first poem looked at was ‘War Photographer’. This
poem was written in third person view, where a war photographer has returned home
after a lengthy job at war. Duffy uses this man’s job to draw out the reality
of war. In the first stanza she talks about how he is handling the aftermath of
the harsh time he has been through on his job. In the first line of the first
stanza she says he is in his ‘Dark room’ which gives the obvious meaning that
he is in his photography room printing the images he took during the war. However,
it has a darker, deeper meaning behind it where Duffy is using the words
‘darkroom to cover that it is a bleak, serious and intimidating place much like
the place his job takes him to mentally. A place where all the memories of war
are locked and stored there just like the pictures are stored in the room. She
continues the line by saying he is ‘finally alone’ which tells us no one is
around him but the word ‘finally’ builds the atmosphere of relief. He is
relieved that at last he is alone and not in the war zone surrounded but all
the casualties. He is relieved that he is alone, hinting that he has been
looking for a place where he can escape and not be found much like the innocent
people that were victims of war were trying to do. Escape.

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Throughout the poem ‘War Photographer’ Duffy explores
the theme of suffering to tell the readers that this is cruel and we aren’t
that heartless to watch people innocent people suffer. She explorers the theme
of suffering through the people involved in the war, she makes the point that
the conflict caused has led to suffering of many innocent parties. This is
presented when she says ‘fields which don’t explode beneath the feet of running
children in a nightmare heat’. This paints a powerful image of happy children
playing and running on fields. By using the negative construction ‘don’t
explode’ ironically makes the mind think of the places of war that Duffy has
mentioned such as ‘Belfast’ and ‘Beirut’ where landmines that are extremely
harmful exploded taking the lives of a great amount of innocent children. This
image leads to ‘something’ happening which is literal. The photographer is
talking about a photo and ‘something is happening’ in it that is reminding him
of all the feelings and memories associated with it. He is being transported
back to the war in that moment. The structure of this poem is firm. It is laid
out equally with a clear rhyme scheme throughout the whole poem. This is
interesting as the order in the structure contrasts with the disturbing and
chaotic image clearly painted for us in that moment.


Another form of conflict is portrayed by indifference.
She talks about how people in her home land don’t care about the suffering
people in foreign countries.  She
mentions how the magazine’s editor will ‘pick out five or six’ as the ‘reader’s
eyeballs prick with tears’ while looking through ‘Sunday’s supplement’. Many
people have been affected during the war and many soldiers will never be able
to remove some memories but only very few photos will ever be seen. ‘Five or
six’ suggests that it is a very casual process and the editor dealing with the
photos is extremely relaxed as if it is nothing important. These pictures will not
be on the main page but in a small section because these photos aren’t
considered interesting enough so they’re extra bits placed to remind people
it’s a continuous cycle. When people look at them their eyes ‘prick with tears’,
this shows that the seriousness of the picture leave the readers almost
crying. ‘Prick’ is like a one cutting their finger with a needle, the pain is
quickly forgotten, she says this to show us how heartless people in her
homeland are because they don’t care about all that has happened to people in
foreign countries.


Another poem that looked at suffering through conflict
is Dulce Et Decorum Est. Owen describes the soldiers as ‘drunk with fatigue’
this refers to how the soldiers have been working and fighting for so long that
they became extremely fatigued and unfocused to the point that they can barely
control their actions much like a drunk person. He also describes them as ‘Deaf
even to the hoots’. He is trying to get us to feel how endless the soldiers’
march seems to them in that moment. They are extremely exhausted they don’t
notice ‘gas-shells’ dropping behind them.


The biggest similarity between both poems is that they
are particularly anti-war. Both War Photographer and Dulce et Decorum Est talk
about wars but War Photographer talks in third person view as a photographer
whereas in Dulce et Decorum Est he talks in first person view where a soldier
is talking about his experience at war. Both these poems refer to the dead, War
Photographer refers to ghosts and Dulce et Decorum refers to zombies. In War
Photographer Duffy uses a metaphor to say the photographer’s ghost is haunting
him however in Dulce et Decorum Est, he says ‘Men marched asleep’ which is him
telling us about the horror of the soldiers are walking as if they’re dead.
Like zombies. Both poets from War Photographer and Dulce et Decorum Est were
disturb by the scenes from wars however Wilfred Owen only wrote about the gas
attack which most disturbed him and Carol Ann Duffy wrote the whole poem based
on wars in general.


The second poem looked at was ‘Prayer Before Birth’.
MacNeice uses many techniques in his poem to display different emotions. He
uses repetition at the beginning of each stanza to show that when the fetes
says ‘I am not born yet’ he is afraid to enter this dark and cruel world. It is
also repeated to stress that although the child isn’t born yet he is already
aware of all the brutality of the world. He isn’t alive yet he’s aware, he
hasn’t entered the world yet therefore he is praying to enter a world full of
peace and happiness. It is also repeated to show that he is expressing his
concern about future generations to God. MacNeice also repeats ‘O hear me’ and
‘O fill me’. The ‘me’ is repeated many times to emphasize his fears of the
world. These repetitions show that he is praying. He is praying so much to show
his concerns before he enters the cruel world in hope that peace prevails
before he is born.


The unborn child in MacNeice’s poem fears that he will
be controlled by others and be his own individual. he says ‘would make me a cog
in a machine’ which tells us that the unborn child is petrified of becoming a
part of a deadly and cruel controlling system. He is comparing the situation to
a ‘cog in a machine’ because a machine is lifeless and shows no emotions. This
is also a metaphor where MacNeice compares cogs to soldiers and the machine symbolises
war. This whole metaphor represents the child’s birth in the world to be
pointless because there are many soldiers in the army yet people see them all
as insignificant and since his birth is compared to a ‘cog in a machine’
MacNeice is saying his birth alone is pointless. The child fears he will be
turned into something as a lifeless as a machine. He fears he’ll become ‘a
thing with one face’, someone capable of minimal thoughts. A nobody.


MacNeice interprets conflict mostly between the child
and his fears of the world but he also interprets conflict between the unborn
child’s innocence and the brutality of the cruel world he is about to enter. He
says ‘for the sins in me the world shall commit’, this shows us that the child
fears that the world’s sins and his own will be connected as if they are one.
There is conflict because the child is innocent and unaware and the world is a
dark, cruel, scary place and the child fears he will lose himself in the world.
He fears not having control over himself and becoming malicious like the world,
committing many sins. Losing himself to the evil of the world is one of very
few fears the unborn child is troubled by. MacNeice mentions the child fearing
‘bloodsucking bats’, ‘club-footed ghoul’, man ‘who thinks he is God’ he fears
all these and many more leading him to pray to God for all these to stay away
from him before saying ‘otherwise kill me’ which tells us he would rather be
killed than be born into a cruel world like this one which he will be unable to
change or influence.


The Right Word implies there is a terrorist out there,
because it was written after the attack on the twin towers on September 11th
in 2011 Dharker wrote this to show that everyone is now considered a terrorist
even the young ones. At the beginning Dharker excludes the terrorist in the
shadow from the narrator’s home by saying ‘outside the door’. The poet isolates
him ‘outside’ to show the human fears and ignores what they don’t understand,
she assumes he is a ‘terrorist’ to make us think we know the motive of this
person. The narrator has a moment of self-doubt where she asks ‘is that the
wrong description?’, she is searching for an accurate description because she
doesn’t want to accuse anyone. She uses a metaphor when saying ‘taking shelter
in the shadows’ which suggests that the unknown person is frightened and
seeking safety against an unknown ruthless enemy.


In ‘Prayer Before Birth’ and ‘Right Word’ they seek
help from God. In ‘Prayer Before Birth’ the unborn child prays pleads and prays
to god while in the ‘Right Word’ the narrator becomes confused and says ‘God
help me’ because she is troubled and seeking help. In both poems they also fear
something, the unborn child fears many things in this harsh world but in the
‘Right Word’ the hostess fears that the unknown person is a terrorist. In both
poems the people plea for human freedom as they all feel trapped. The unborn
child wants to be free from the world’s sins and the evil in it, and the women
that feared the boy wants there to be freedom so young boys don’t have to take
on and become soldiers.


The poem ‘Mother in A Refugee Camp’ hints to the
readers that the poem focuses on refugees and despair and it aims to tell the
readers of the horrors and loss people face when in a refugee camp. Chinua
Achebe says ‘unwashed children with washed out ribs’. The unwashed children are
in contrast with the mother’s child who is bathed and groomed making the
readers think that everything in this refugee camp is fine and the children are
perfectly healthy whereas the washed out ribs represents the children starving
and the fleshless ribs as if they’re drained of life and that contradicts the
perfectly healthy children and makes the reader realise the true horror people
must go through in a refugee camp as it is their only way of survival. This is
also a metaphor where the continuation of the sentence can be seen as life of
the children flowing out of them. This shows in a refugee camp the children are
not fed and unwashed which portrays the misery the children feel over there.


Chinua Achebe uses poetic devices to show a mother’s
unconditional love even in the face of death. Achebe says ‘broken comb’ which
presents that they are poor so their belongings are broken. However, this also
reflects how the boy is broken from the inside. The repetition in this line
gives a heavy repetitive pace like the sad and weary task she is performing. He
goes on to say that she is combing the ‘rust coloured hair left in his skull’
which shows that he is unwashed therefore his hair is dirty but also it shows
that due to not eating properly his hair alludes to the protein deficiency. The
metaphor ‘humming in her eyes’ suggests the mother is crying because she is
remembering happier time when she used to care for her child, and she is
humming a tune her child used to enjoy. He does this to gain empathy from the
readers, so they all know about the true horrors of what it’s like being in a
refugee camp worrying about your child every second of every day.


The simile ‘like putting flowers on a tiny grave’
compares motherly duties to death. It implies her son is already dead however
she still thinks about him and imagines all these children as if they were her
son. Her son did not have a proper coffin or grave, but the mother needs the
ritual of a formal burial to get closure, it’s a human impulse, and a mark of
respect and an act of love. Throughout the poem, Achebe, speaks about the
future then shifts to the present and then shifts again to the past so their
life can be contrasted then and now. Conflict is portrayed between the mother
and son’s life before the war and after the war, the mother and son have no
conflict between them as the conflict is presented between the mother and the
war she lost her son to.

Who’s for game is a very pro war poem written in a
conversational manner to make it more memorable and to target young lads not
the poetry enthusiasts. It has an obvious rhyme scheme ABABCDCD… to give it a
friendly and musical tone. Jessie Pope starts by saying ‘who’s for the game’
referring to the war as a rugby match as if suggesting it is not serious but
fun. A ‘game’ has rules but Jessie Pope never mentions rules for her game
making the game seem unfair. She describes the game as ‘the biggest that’s
played’ emphasizing how important and fun it is. ‘Biggest’ also means they won
and are champions of other ‘games’ which shows they have won their previous


Who’s for the game
and Mother in a Refugee Camp are 2 very different poems however they both use
poetic devices to engage the readers and grasp their attention. Jessie Pope was
extremely pro war, she referred to the war as a sport by saying ‘grip and tackle’
to pressurize British men to join the war. She also spoke directly to her
audience so they had no escape. She provoked her readers to support the war.
While in Mother in a Refugee Camp, Achebe portrays the terrors of loss and
refugee camps by saying ‘long ceased to care but not this one’, the flow represents the weary effort of the mothers to just move
forward and function at a low level, beyond grief. “not this one” represents
the women being more awake and aware to show that the war has made her more aware
of these tragedies.


Conflict is a conflict between opposing opinions and this was
shown clearly in the 6 poems looked at. Conflict can be portrayed in love,
loss, death, social injustice and innocence. ‘Prayer before birth’ looked at
conflict through the innocence of the child, whereas ‘Mother in a Refugee camp’
explored conflict in the love and loss of the mother and her deceased child and
war photographer captured conflict in the loss of people’s lives at war and the
social injustice where the luxurious people didn’t care about the tragedies
that occurred. Thus, these poems aim to remind us that we must help and
remember the lives that were part of the war. To remind us of the catastrophes
experienced at war and the agonies of the aftermath, to remind us to appreciate
not being a part of such conflict.


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