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‘Yellow Palm’ by Robert Minhinnick Essay

The ‘yellow palm’ is about the poet walking down the main street in Baghdad and comments on what he sees. In doing so the poem reflects on war and peace. Reflecting on the past and future which are linked with reconciliation and peace.

The theme of the poem seems to revolve around the colour yellow, even in the title of the poem yellow is included. Yellow can mean many things, happy – a sunny day. We associate yellow with negative things also as well, such as the yellow of a dead white person; decaying skin. This association is what I think the author has decided to include in this poem. The effect of ‘dead’ is what is pictured when I read this poem.

The poem is set out in regular six-line stanzas, alternating longer and shorter iambic lines, and an abcbdb rhyme scheme. The choice of this simple and traditional form is reassuring and helps to make the content accessible. In my opinion it is suggesting that you can make a foreign city and culture familiar, and allows time to reflect on the disturbing content and imagery. Each stanza also includes a main event of the poets journey

Structurally the poem reads the journey of the poet as it goes through the different stanzas. The line ‘I walked down Palestine street’ is repeated at the start of every stanza. This give the poem a sense of rhythm and suggests how much goes on in that one street, and the journey of the poet from past and future.

The language of the poem uses traditional Arabic references,such as ‘the barbarian sun’; a negative metaphor. This is suggesting that the sun is naturally big and hot, which is compared with Barbarians who make unnatural conflict and strengthen the war.

‘I watched a funeral pass’ this quotation gives the reader an impression of an everyday event. This is not morally right and draws attention towards the violence and suffering of the war. However shows how locals are used to it as part of everyday life.

‘And into their hands I pressed my hands with a hundred black dinars’ In this line the poet is showing that many people in Baghdad are in poverty due to war and very little money is available.

Throughout the poem we see a contrast between peace and violence. For example ‘mosque’ and ‘blood on walls’ and ‘missile’ and ‘beggar’ which is described to bless something with its smile. The contrast between something so innocent and brutal is used by the poet to show that Baghdad was brutalised tragically.

However in the last stanza there is a dramatic change from all negative to a sense of hope. ‘ the fruit fell in his arms’, this quotation shows hope of a better future for the beggar. This draws the readers attention because throughout the whole poem we see no hope until the last stanza.

To conclude with, in my opinion this poem is a very effective and personal journey which turns from war and conflict into peace and reconciliation between people. The poet used strong emotive language and descriptive methods to put across his thoughts on ‘Palestine Street’ at the time of war.

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