War Photographer Poem

The theme of war is used to explore how innocence can be lost. “War Photographer” is about a photographer who utilizes the suffering of refugees for the “Sunday supplement”. The photographer feels guilty about his “job” and still can hear the “cries” of a man’s wife, which indicates that these memories are haunting him, and made him lose his innocence due to what he had witnessed. Duffy uses imagery like “blood stained into foreign dust” which has many uses; “blood” symbolizes the pain and grief of the refugees, and how it has been “stained” into the land so the people themselves. Furthermore the word “stained” implies that the photographer has been permanently affected, causing him to lose his innocence, like the veterans in “Mental Cases”.

“Mental Cases” is about the effects of war on soldier’s mental state. The poem paints a picture of horror and pity for the war veterans. The soldiers are described to be “baring teeth that leer” which suggests animalistic qualities by showing their teeth defensively. The “multitudinous murders they once witnessed” is an alliteration to emphasize the mass killings. This refers to the literal genocide that happened in front of soldier’s eyes. This brings up the lasting mental effect as the images would haunt them forever. “Once witnessed” implies that before the war they were ordinary people, and after witnessing the war, it turned them into ‘mental cases’. This implies that the veterans have lost their innocence due to war because of their job, a theme prevalent in “War Photographer.”

Owen describes the soldiers as “purgatorial shadows”; the word purgatorial has biblical connotations, where it is a place or state of suffering. This implies that the soldiers are trapped in their suffering and...

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... the child and other mothers in the refugee camp. It shows the love that the mother has for her almost dying child and it also implies that she is not willing to let the child lose his innocence by being taken away by death.

Likewise in Ballad of Birmingham, Randall portrays a mother – child relationship. The use of dialogue between the child and the mother and colloquial language in their communication shows the deep affection they have for one another. The repetition of ‘No, baby, no’ reflects the mother’s desperateness for her child to be safe. Both mothers lose their innocent child due to hardships that they are facing. “Bits of glass and brick” implies that not only was the bond between mother and daughter broken, but daughter’s innocence as well. The “glass” conveys a fragile image for the girl, which shows how innocence can be lost so easily and quickly.
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