Compare and Contrast how feelings of fear and confusion are conveyed
Length: 1082 words (3.1 double-spaced pages)
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through the use of imagery and other poetic techniques.
I am going to compare the use of poetic devices to portray fear and
confusion in 3 different poems, they are; Patrolling Barnegat by Walt
Whitman, On the Train by Gillian Clarke, and Storm on the Island by
Seamus Heaney. These poems all portray a feeling of confusion, often
it is linked with the theme of war. In Patrolling Barnegat, Walt
Whitman uses repetition to enhance the power of the storm he is
"Wild, Wild the storm, and the sea high running"
The repetition of wild in this line helps to enforce the power of the
storm and nature. Whitman also uses personification in this line where
he compares the movement of the sea to a person running, as if he is
saying that the sea will move for nobody. He is also making it sound
as if the sea is rushing to get somewhere as if it is on a mission.
Whitman also incorporates rhyme in his poem. This gives his poem a
strong rhythm and this rhythm ties in with the image of the rolling
sea, and gives this image more effect.
In Storm on the IslandSeamus Heaney also describes a vivid, powerful
storm. He describes the storm like he has learnt from past experience.
He describes preparing for the storm as if he has gone through it many
"Can raise a tragic chorus in a gale"
Here Seamus Heaney is comparing the storm to a tragic chorus, which
could be associated with an opera - a form of entertainment. Seamus
Heaney is using 2 opposites to help describe the ferocity of the storm
and give the reader a clearer picture of what it would be like to be
where he is. Also Heaney uses no punctuation at the end of his lines,
so it is like reading a continuous sentence. Despite the lack of
punctuation, the poem still has a definite rhythm, and because of the
lack of punctuation, an unusual style.
Gillian Clarke's poem On the Train describes the Paddington rail crash
of October '99 She uses many poetic techniques to describe what it
must have been like for people waiting to find if their relatives that
had been travelling on the train that day were safe or not.
"The wolves howl into silent telephones"
Here Gillian Clarke is talking about the people who have lost someone
in the crash. She uses the metaphor of a wolf to describe the people
trying to phone their loved ones, only to get silence, or an answer
phone message. The use of the word howl vividly describes the people
crying into their phones, desperate to know how their friends and
family are. Gillian Clarke's use of language helps people who may not
have been in this situation themselves to understand the emotional
anguish involved. Also, the first thing people think of when they
think of wolves is their distinctive howl, which makes this line even
Walt Whitman uses Personification numerous times in his poem, his
clever use of this technique helps the reader to understand his
descriptions more easily.
"Shouts of demoniac laughter fitfully piercing and pealing"
Here Whitman compares the storm to one of the most fear-provoking
things possible, the words 'demoniac laughter' instantly make you
think of an evil being, laughing at some destruction he has caused.
This then ties in with the theme of the storm being totally
uncontrollable and unstoppable. Walt Whitman also uses personification
in the way he says that the storm is 'laughing'. Obviously a storm
cannot laugh, so Whitman is portraying that the way the storm seems to
enjoy being totally omnipotent. Also Whitman uses two words that you
would normally associate with the sound of a bell 'piercing' and
'pealing'. People do not normally associate the sound of a bell with
the sound of a storm, but the crash of lightning often is a very
piercing sound, and this maybe where the origin of the connotation
with the sound of a bell originates from.
In Storm on the Island, Heaney also uses many war-like words;
"And strafes invisibly. Space is a salvo."
The words 'Strafe' and 'Salvo' are normally associated with firing a
weapon, and to associate these words with a storm obviously relates to
the storms awesome power, and strength. Although these words do not
have as strong effect as Whitman's 'Shouts of demoniac laughter' they
make a connection with most people and therefore show the strength of
the storm with great aptitude. He also compares space to a salvo, or,
in other words, a sudden discharge of many small weapons, which, in
this case are the storms. Seamus Heaney uses these war like metaphors
in many of his poems, and through his usage of them he can make any
force seem twice as large. In this poem through his comparison to
space being a salvo, he allows the reader to imagine the huge,
destructive force that can be unleashed at any time, without warning.
He does this by saying 'strafes invisibly'. He is saying that even
though you cannot see the wind, it still has vast potential to cause
horrific damage. Through his use of language and poetic techniques
alone he describes the scene so you would be able to imagine it
exactly in your mind, as if you ad been their yourself.
In Gillian Clarke's poem, there is a very powerful line which sums up
the emotional damage caused by and incident like a rail crash;
"and in the rubble of suburban kitchens"
This line contrasts the two scenes she is describing and mixes them
into 1. She is using the metaphor of rubble to describe the
devastation that wives, husbands, and children are feeling, as a
family member is on the train as they eat their breakfast, and thy
don't know whether not they are safe. Also, this line depicts the way
that people are struggling to get in contact with family members, and
those that cannot at all are probably facing an even greater emotional
Gillian Clarke's use of Similes and Metaphors allows the reader to
grasp what it would be like to be in the position of not knowing
whether a family member is out of harm's way or not. Using these
poetic techniques she can put the reader in the place of someone else,
and allow them to feel their emotions.