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Compare and Contrast Two Poets Opinions On Infant Mortality.

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COMPARE AND CONTRAST TWO POETS OPINIONS ON INFANT MORTALITY The two poems are 'We are Seven' by William Wordsworth and 'On My First Sonne' by Ben Jonson. Prior to 1900 infant mortality featured in most peoples lives but although it was expected it still created personal catastrophe which could be devastating. Although both 'We are Seven' and 'On My First Sonne' are both taking about the subject of infant mortality, they portray it in a very different way. Wordsworth's poem is about a young girl who does not recognize death as a separation or loss which the narrator feels he is trying to explain to her but in fact the girl teaches him a lot more than he teaches her. Jonson's poem is about the father-son relationship, an exploration of a father's feelings on the loss of his son. In Jonson's poem we get an insight into how Jonson is feeling over the loss of his son. Jonson's poem has a complex structure and we can see from this that perhaps he wanted to focus his mind on a poem to try and ease the pain of his loss. The poem can also suggest to us that at this point Jonson's feelings are also very complex as he uses different arguments in his poem to try and convince himself that his son is now at and advantage. ...read more.


In this stanza we see that the narrator is very rational and when he asks,"What should it know of death?" He expects his answer to be the same as his thoughts but we get the feeling that he is going to be challenged over his views. As we go through the poem we see a simple girl who explains to the narrator that among the seven children of her family she includes the two that "in the churchyard lie." The narrator tries to persuade her that if they are dead then surely there are only five of them. "You run about, my little maid, Your limbs they are alive; If two are in the churchyard laid, Then ye are only five." Here the narrator tries to put his point of view forward saying that they are dead not alive. The narrator comes across as very demanding and brutal, insisting that his ideas must be accepted by the young girl. This is what Wordsworth hopes to achieve as Wordsworth thought that children still had the spirit and imagination that is lost through education. But in response to the narrator the young girl says why there are seven. The description of the two children being "side by side" and "twelve steps or more from my mother's door" creates the image of the children still being together as a family even though they are dead. ...read more.


Jonson's poem takes a very different approach to infant mortality when compared to Wordsworth's. In Wordsworth's the children's lives are kept going and savoured but in Jonson's although the memory of his son is treasured it causes a lot of pain due to the 'sin' he has committed of loving his son too much. These differences could be seen as the differences between an adult's view and a child's view; this was Wordsworth's aim in his poem. Both poems have a different feel to them. In Jonson's we see a very sad, sincere and sombre mood but in Wordsworth's poem we get an almost happy mood, as we see that the children's lives are celebrated not just mourned over. It is not only the content that makes Wordsworth's poem have a happy mood but it is the way he has made the poem very simple without complicated language. The two poems are both exploring the subject of infant mortality but for different purposes. Wordsworth's poem is to try and inform people, not only about infant mortality but of everyday judgements that are made. Jonson's poem is one that was probably written for himself, as a way of coping with grieve he was faced with. Although the poets have very different opinions we can see in both how infant mortality was a major fact in live before 1900. We can also see how it affected the people who were involved. This was in very different ways, as people react to different situations differently. Sarah Belsey - 1 - ...read more.

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