Different Perspectives on Death: Comparative Poem Analysis

Categories: English Language
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Compare and Contrast the way three poems from the anthology and outside the anthology present the theme of death Essay Title: How is death portrayed in different forms in poems? The poems War Photographer (Carol Ann Duffy), A mother in a refugee camp (Chinua Achebe) and Do not go gentle into that Good Night (Dylan Thomas) have misleading initial impressions but the deep concept that lies in all these poems is death. Death is a common concept used in poetry that relates to war, husband – wife relationships and family rivalry.

Death poems are also common for another reason – many poets tend to spill out their emotions and frustrations held within them through self – portrayal or portraying it through different characters. This essay will discuss and explore how death theme is portrayed in different conditions like war, family, etc. Comparisons will also be made with these three poems outside of the anthology – Song of Myself (Walt Whitman), I died for Beauty – but was scarce (Emily Dickinson) and The Weary Blues (Langston Hughes).

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In the poem War Photographer, Duffy emphasises emotions and memories of a photographer after the turmoil of death he has been through.

There are also many short sentences which highlight the message that life is really short, death is really quick. The metaphor “fields don’t explode beneath…” infers to the landmines used in wars and the people who are running are the children (as mentioned in the text). When children are scared, they lose control of their minds and start running around, trying to find safety.

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But they are not aware of the secret, hidden dangers and many are killed like this. This also shows that the poet is haunted by the memories of people dying in a very bad way. In the same way, the poem Song of Myself has a meaning of death but hidden in nature.

The poet believes that whenever he dies he will always serve nature and the cause of his death and life is nature. So, these two poems show the hidden ‘attacks’ of death and how some people confine to death knowingly or unknowingly. Another technique in this poem is a contrast. There is a contrast between good and bad – war photographer – the photographer shows all the bad things that happen (war, dying photos) and opens up the message to the world which is a good thing. So basically, throughout this contrast, an oxymoron is created for the aspect of good and bad. This also highlights the seriousness in his job.

Another aspect of his character that is shown is the qualities in him – he stands up for those who are in need. There is also contrast in Song of Myself – the poet talks about evening but that is a time when there is contrast and diversion from day to night. But in his terms, it is change from life to death. It is also a change between worlds for him – change from nature to civilisation. In the dark, civilisation cannot see nature properly so the dominant property is civilisation. In the day, nature dominates civilisation as most animals and plants are there and they can protect nature.

Very strong diction is used in this poem which can help emphasise the aspect death. The word “finally” in stanza one suggests that he has been through a lot and he is very tired after trying to dodge death in the war and try to take photos to show the world the reality that takes place. The word finally also suggests that he is relieved not to see any more bloodshed. He also wants to end the memories of people dying and suffering pain. In the same way, in the poem The Weary Blues, Langston Hughes talks about a black man who wants to end his life and succumb to death because of the black people segregation.

Then only will he be relieved and be able to ‘live’ happily in peace. Both the poems refer death but to as a relieving ‘ailment’. The poems are saying that one of the common remedies that people take when they are in stress or in difference of opinion is death. The words used in War Photographer, The Weary Blues are negative words as this complies with the death theme. The language is very slow – paced, which emphasizes the fact of grievance death, how people are dying and suffering and also how the photographer has the memories back when he unconsciously saw death.

In The Weary Blues the poet uses his character to say language that all weaves with death. The poem A Mother in a Refugee Camp is poem that talks about death in a very strong relationship. The relationship in this case is between a mother and child. The poem has a very irregular structure but the main feature of this poem is that there is a very unusual use of punctuation in the form of pauses. These pauses literally show that the mother is trying to tell her story, experience and what she is going to have to see and experience after her child’s death.

The irregular structure helps make the poem more realistic. The poet Chinua Achebe lived in Nigeria at the time of the civil war in Nigeria and he has helped Nigeria come out of this tunnel of death. The poet has used a very strongly emotional juxtaposition – “The air was heavy with odours…” – this sentence has a straight – forward yet harsh and bitter tone. This suggests the after effects of starvation and also emphasises and highlights how sick the children are. Bones are literally washed away. Since it is Nigeria, poverty is emphasised in this poem to show how poverty is affecting relationship bonds.

This also shows that no one cares about the poor people in places like Nigeria. The disease spreads quite quickly, the poem indicates that food, water and shelter, three things that are essential for humans, are hard to find and due to this, many are dying. In the same way, the poem I died for beauty but was scarce Dickinson is trying to say that people strive for external beauty but what other people get attracted are internal beauty and your characteristics. In A Mother in a Refugee Camp Achebe is saying that poverty is overlooked while Dickinson is saying that beauty is overlooked.

As shown here, there is a contrast yet comparison. The contrast is that the two poets are talking about two opposite features – beauty and poverty. But the comparison is that they are saying that these two characteristics are overlooked in olden and modern days. Another major comparison is “Like putting flowers on a tiny grave”. This shows that the child is going to die soon and the mother is foreseeing it very quickly, even though she doesn’t want to. There is also a comparison of everyday occurrence of tenderness with putting flowers on a grave shows how inevitable the child’s death is and also the fact that she knows it.

There is also a simile with a contrast – the child used to live happily, go to school, have breakfast, but now the child doesn’t have good clothes, bad hair and has to eat nothing but crumbs and rotten food which are destroying the child. In the same way, in the poem The Weary Blues the black man in the poem knows that death is inevitable for him and so he is basically ‘singing’ his feelings due to his helplessness to help himself. Another pointer for this poem is the ellipses that are present. The poet has cleverly used this technique to suggest a change of topic (lines 3 and 11).

From line 3 – 4 the topic changes from a religious view to what is happening in the real world. It also changes from a mother’s feelings and emotions to the current situation. From line 11 and onwards, the topic changes from the real world to what happened in the past. As for death, she is trying to remember her child more before the child dies, and she is trying to make herself feel happy by remembering these fond memories. But deep down inside, she is feeling extremely hurt. Likewise, in the poem I died for beauty but was scarce, the poet is feeling hurt inside and wants to die

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Different Perspectives on Death: Comparative Poem Analysis. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from http://studymoose.com/igcse-english-new-essay

Different Perspectives on Death: Comparative Poem Analysis
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