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Compare the Images of Old Age one gets from the two poems 'Old Man Old man' and 'Warning'.

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Introduction

Compare the Images of Old Age one gets from the two poems 'Old Man Old man' and 'Warning' From reading both 'Old Man Old Man' and 'Warning' the attitudes and images of old age which the two poems present are completely different to each other. 'Old Man Old Man' describes a man who is becoming old and he doesn't like it "Your Helplessness, you who hate being helpless" whereas in 'Warning' the old lady is really looking forward to the freedom of old age, "You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat". 'Old Man Old Man' puts forward all the down sides of becoming old, such as losing your independence "He was always a man who did it himself", loosing your eyesight "he left for himself when he saw better", losing your memory "I've lost the hammer" and loosing your mind "Now you ramble in your talk around London districts, fretting at how to find your way from Holborn to Soho." However the lady in 'Warning' becomes a child again and starts to be rebellious "I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired and gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells." ...read more.

Middle

The lady uses phrases like 'Gobble up' which emphasises greed as it is quite a powerful and evocative phrase. Although both poems deal with old age, they not only take a very different attitude to it but have a very different tone. In 'Old Man Old Man' the first half of the poem is almost an impersonal description of the old man and how his world is shrinking. It is only at half way that the poet reveals his close relation to the old man - he starts to talk in terms of you and I. The first half is certainly bleak and bitter with its description of his falling eyesight and memory and the mocking reference "Lord once of shed, garage and garden," yet gradually despite the obvious bad relationship, the old man had with his children (including perhaps the poet) the mood changes to one of almost gentle pity. The poet notes that the old man tried not to cry and he follows this with the ambiguous lines "I love your helplessness, you who hate being helpless". At first sight it might be that the narrator is rejoicing in the old mans' helplessness, but then he goes on to offer his help "Let me find your hammer. ...read more.

Conclusion

By contrast 'Warning' is a much more joyful and optimistic poem. This is reflected in its lack of structure - again there is no rhythm or rhyme. Also the sentences in the first part are quite long as if the narrator is dreaming up a whole series of idiotic things to do on the spot. The language is much less formal with its use of verbs like "gobble up" and talks of "eating three ponds of sausages at a go". The view point shifts from the 'I' of the opening stanza to the 'You' when she attempts to show that everybody can have a fun old age. When the time frame shifts in the third stanza from the future to the responsibilities of the present. The poet tries to involve others by using 'We'. In the final stanza the poet goes back to 'I' as she raises the possibility of practicing her freedom now, In this poem the narrator attempts to throw over the middle class values and expectations ("we must have friends to dinner and read the papers") in favour of something more individual and fun. It is in complete contrast to the more downbeat pessimistic view of 'Old Man Old Man'. ?? ?? ?? ?? 10/05/2007, Chris Emery, English Poetry Coursework Page 1 of 2 ...read more.

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