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“Target Area” by Peter Roberts Essay

Peter Roberts “Target Area” is an influential poem that exposes the reality of war. The poem depicts a bombing mission targeting an enemy village, beginning with the entry of the bomber into the target area and ending with its escape. Peter Roberts gives a vivid description of the bombing raid from the perspective of the bombardier. Roberts describes what the bombardier endures, observes, hears, and encounters during the raid.

The theme of the poem is the sights and sounds of war throughout the eyes of the bombardier. Peter Roberts expresses this by writing how the bombardier feels during the raid, “they have us! First a couple then a third, then dozens of them like a giant bird” This simile generates the effect that he feels scared and hesitant. Peter Roberts focuses on certain words to create an image in our minds “beyond the tireless searchlights bound for home, along the cloud-strewn way that we have come.”

The structure of the poem consists of three different components; the first section describes the anxiety of a bombing mission. The second describes targeting the area and the third, describes flying home. This type of poem is a ballad. The poem is unique because it explains in detail, what would have happened over a series of minutes. Each stanza has its own effect, the third and forth stanzas are longer to produce the effect that when your about to die time slows down. The poem flows with rhythm all the way through it. It is a very anxiety filled piece and shows how people are affected by war.

Peter Roberts uses a various amount of different techniques to create an effect for the outcome of the poem. Each technique generates a mood for the poem. “Left-left! Left-left again! A little ri-i-ight . . . . “. This produces the sense of urgency and creates alarm. While the sentence “streams of orange tracer, streams of red”, gives a sense of imagery, and assembles a picture in your mind. The effect of pauses also creates a mood. “And still they have that gritty, tearing sound . . .” The use of the pause here lets you think and obtain all the information.

Throughout the poem different kinds of poetic technique are used, the main ones are Personification, “The groping fingers claw the moonless night” this personification gives a negative feeling. Along with “with dazzling beams of rigid, icy light” creates the mood of cold icy death. Metaphor, “across the velvet curtain of the dark” creates the feeling of terror, no hope. This section also creates a sense of anxiety and fear. “Bombs gone! A dull vibration as they go. Below us in the darkness, far below” This Assonance adds the effect that bombs have been dropped.

Peter Roberts has chosen to make each pair of lines rhyme “the heavy bomber starts to soar and dip,” “writhing within their cold remorseless grip.” An Example of Onomatopoeia in the poem is “Crrr-ump! Crrr-ump! They’ve got our range the heavy flak is bursting into puffs of sooty black” The reader can then interpret the sentence, imagine a sound and how it would be on board.

The poem “Target Area” is primarily a graphic description of a wartime experience. The satisfactory issue about this poem is that you can feel the tension as the searchlights wave across the sky in search of the bomber, undergo the rumbling of the bombs exploding, and experience the relief as they complete their mission.

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