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Comparing 'Calf' by Gillian Clarke and 'February 17th' by Ted Hughes.

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Introduction

Comparing 'Calf' by Gillian Clarke and 'February 17th' by Ted Hughes By Rob Corley Both poets are writing about an experience of the same thing, a birth. Hughes' however, is a bad birth and Clarke's is a good birth. Although they are relating the same subject, the two poems are very different, not only in the style of writing but in the story and atmosphere. The themes in both are the partnership of life and death. They both start by setting the atmosphere with the weather. Hughes depicts a bad atmosphere by describing the worst of winter days: "Ice wind Out of a downpour dishclout sunrise". In contrast Clarke expresses the loveliest day of the year: "The stillest, hottest day of the summer" Also Hughes describes the inhospitable environment of the: "Mudded slope" So right from the start it can be seen that Hughes is going to be relating a bad birth, and Clarke's is going to be good. Another similarity is a technique they use here which is alliteration, a technique that Hughes is very fond of. ...read more.

Middle

as a nice comfortable experience, through imagery; she gets across the gentleness and beautifulness of the birth: "The light flowed out, leaving stars and clarity" "The cow stood up, her cool flanks like white flowers in the dark." In contrast Hughes gives a detailed, and rather gruesome description of the deformed head of the lamb: "A blood ball swollen Tight in its black felt, its mouth gap Squashed crooked, tongue stuck out, black purple." This is great imagery describing the limp, bloated head with the purple deoxygenated blood and short black wool on its head. Although both of these poems are written in 1st person they are different, Hughes is very much physically involved in the experience and plays a big part in it. He is always referring to what it was he had to do: "I caught with a rope"; "I felt inside"; "I saw it was useless"; "I pushed" It is forced onto the reader every single little point, and this is clearly intentional. On the other hand Clarke's perspective is very different, she is much more just an observer and simply invites the reader to join her, although ...read more.

Conclusion

When is comes to the structure of the poem, even it reflects the mood of poem. Hughes splits up some of his sentences over lines, this makes it a bit jerky to maybe reflect the uneasiness of the birth and it is also used to give emphasis to the last word of the line, also 'February 17th' is in one big chunk of text and is not split into stanzas, this is make it tense and slightly uneasy for the reader. On the other hand Clarke has two short stanzas the maybe reflect the ease and straightforwardness of the delivery, she also uses the technique of splitting sentences over two lines but her poem in general has a much more formal structure. So in some ways the poems are identical because they have the same subject and themes, life and death, also they use all the same techniques so without reading it and just being told this you would begin to think they were the same. But Hughes is a lot more straightforward and down to earth in the way he tells the story, also he concentrates on just the birth and goes into a lot of detail. On the other hand ...read more.

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