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English coursework

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English coursework Comparing and contrasting two poems from a different culture By Stuart Hamilton Final draft The first thing we notice about "At a potato digging" is that it is set on a farm. This applies to both the poems and we find that they both use normal farm activities to portray much larger events in Ireland's history. In "At a potato digging" it uses a potato digging to contrast against an earlier time in history which was the potato famine, whereas "A difficult birth, Easter 1998" uses the birth of a lamb which is then connected to the birth of the Irish peace conference. In the first verse of "At a potato digging" we are given a description of were the poem is set, which is a farm where the workers are following the mechanical digger as it pulls up the potatoes. The workers are said to "swarm" behind the digger, which suggests that there are many of them and they are quite active. This is a contrast to the past during the famine due to the workers starving to death so there would not be many and the ones that were alive would have had no energy because of the lack of food. ...read more.


This then explains the "humbled knees". Enjambment is used in this verse to show the constant movement just as the sentence stays constant without pause. In the fifth verse it describes a good potato and how they resemble stone hearts of the earth. The goodness of the potatoes is obviously contrasted later in the poem because at the moment the smells coming from the ground and the potatoes soon change from good to bad in the second half. The line "live skulls, blind eyed" is about the potatoes and how they look like skulls and the marks on them are called blind eyes. But as the new verse starts it repeats the line and the metaphor becomes literal due to it now talking about the people because they are living skulls and they have gone blind because it is a symptom of starvation. This line is used again to shock the reader and to show them how the people looked and the effects on them due to the famine. The "live skulls" shows that the people were near death. The word "balanced" suggests weakness and that the people were wobbly which then brings back the word "higgledy" but instead of it being used to show plenty of potatoes it shows a lack of them. ...read more.


Also the burning of the tongue could be connected to the burning anxiety of the Irish people who are waiting for the result of the peace conference. The writer then awaits the government to finish making the deal. She then has to take things into her own hands and starts to pull the lamb out which is like the Irish people starting the peace deal. The lamb has a big role in the poem because it links it to Christianity because lambs are connected to Christ. the lamb was also born in stable and the last line of the poem "the stone rolled away" is related to the rebirth of Christ which then makes it seem that this could be the rebirth of peace of Ireland and the whole Irish community. Then there is a second lamb born which could suggest even more hope because if the first peace conference was difficult there may be a second one that could make peace once and for all in Ireland. "A difficult birth, Easter 1998" ends with a note of optimism and hope for the future but "At a potato digging" it ends with a sense of fear and an over shadowing feeling of the famine and that it could one day return. ...read more.

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