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Poetry Comparison of 'I Shall Return' and 'War Photographer'.

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Poetry Comparison of 'I Shall Return' and 'War Photographer' McKay and Duffy come from two very different backgrounds, one being a Jamaican immigrant and the other a Scottish teacher, yet both of their poems seem to amalgamate under the same theme of alien and residential cultures combined. 'I Shall Return' is a lyrical sonnet and details McKay's wish to return to his home of Jamaica. The first couplet shows the writer in an ironically optimistic state. Despite the fact that leaving your home in the early twentieth century usually meant that you would never return, he is determined to believe that he will revisit his homeland again. This is put across by McKay using repetition in, "I shall return again. I shall return." The second line further concludes this in that he uses fond memories to bring his dream, clearly stated in the opening line, alive. "Wonder-eyes" is a wonderfully descriptive phrase but one cannot help but think if the eyes mentioned are artificial, almost as though he is either looking at his place at the moment of writing with 'rose-tinted spectacles' or whether it reflects the lies he told in that he "shall return." ...read more.


There is also humour, which takes an almost cynical tone, in, "ordinary pain, which simple weather can dispel." This means that in the character's home, England, weather is always a good simple topic to use in conversation as opposed to the subject of pain. Throughout 'I Shall Return', there is a strong sense of colour and vibrancy, reflecting the culture he perhaps left behind. "Blue-black smoke to sapphire skies" is rich in imagery and is quite ambiguous. By blue and black being hyphenated together, it gives them sort of connection, and to me, this connection is bruising or some sort of injury. I think that this represents his pain for leaving his home. At the end of the second stanza in 'War Photographer,' the rhythm begins to pick up as memories return to him, building up tension. The third verse begins with "something is happening," which entices the reader to read on to find what this "something" is. "A half-formed ghost" is a metaphor used to describe the images in the photographs because most of the characters are now dead, ghosts themselves, and these are memories the photographer would much rather see die in his mind. ...read more.


Straight after this, the opening line is repeated again. This is effective as we can finally verify that him returning again is merely a hope that will most likely never happen due to the vacuum-like separation between the countries and races he encounters. I cannot help but wonder if he perhaps believes that his returning would be equal to him running away from the problems of the world, of which he feels responsible for. However the final line, "To ease my mind of long, long years of pain," states that his return may help matters, particularly his own sanity. Both 'War Photographer' and 'I Shall Return' are similar in that they each move between worlds, but wholly belong to neither. Duffy and McKay also find similarities in that both of their poems detail two cultures, one being their home and the other a place of occupation and they both find flaws in each of them. Both McKay's contribution to the literary legacy of the Harlem Renaissance and Duffy's skill of changing the way the reader will look at war photographers ever again are arts in themselves and for that both poems should be framed with their own places in literature. ...read more.

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