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Compare and contrast the poems Vultures and What where they were like? Focus on the use of layout, language and literary devices

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Introduction

Compare and contrast the poems 'Vultures' and 'What where they were like?' Focus on the use of layout, language and literary devices In the poems 'Vultures' by Chinua Achebe and 'What were they were like?' by Denise Levertov, the poets use of highly descriptive language, vivid visual imagery and interesting form of layout, instantly captivate the attention of the reader as you engage and learn of the powerful themes evoked in the poems, linking to topics such as War, Evil and the power of Love. The main topic explored by Chinua Achebe in the poem 'Vultures' is the relationship between evil and love. The beginning of the poem is an unpleasant description of a pair of vultures who are nestling lovingly together just after feasting on a corpse. The poet comments on how strange it is that love can exist in places where it is not thought possible. Here the Vultures are used as a symbol of the fact that evil and love can co-exist and work together. Achebe then goes on to describe the 'love' a concentration camp commandant shows to his family; for after spending his day burning human corpses, he buys his children sweets on the way home. ...read more.

Middle

The structure of the poem is very unique. It is split into two verses. The first of is a list of questions and the second verse represents the answers. This causes the reader to think more about the questions before you read the answers. The questions are mostly straightforward and the questioner's tone is curious and almost innocent as the questions display a lack of knowledge about other cultures. However the tone of the questioner also conveys a lack of sensitivity and seems to be laughing at the ways of the Vietnamese. In the first line the word Vietnam is split into two, which also highlights the ignorance of the questioner. 'Did the people of Viet Nam use lanterns of stone?' (L.1-2) The words of the person answering these questions seem to convey anger, bitterness and even impatience with the questioner, as if the answerer was not happy with the events that occurred. However, on the surface they answer with a polite tone which gives the idea that the Vietnamese people were gentle and kind. Together, these verses create a portrait of simple peasant people, living a happy and humble life among the paddy fields. This contrasts with the terrible effects of war, as children are killed, bones were charred- 'All the bones were charred' (L.18) ...read more.

Conclusion

(L.21-29) There is a lot of imagery and some alliteration in the poem, but little sound imagery as Achebe concentrates on using visual imagery rather than sound to present his ideas. In 'What were they like' Levertov uses alliteration such as 'bitter to the burned mouth' (L.16) to emphasize the horrors and terrible effects the war brought upon the poor people of Vietnam. Levertov's language also bring images of these deeds into the readers mind and his use of vivid imagery helps the reader to imagine what the war was really like, just by reading this poem. Sound is also used in this poem to add effect. Denise Levertov uses words such as 'laughter' and 'singing' so that the reader can hear what life was like for the peasants in Vietnam before the war. These words create a happy sound and image of how life was. However, with the use of 'scream' and 'smash' we also learn the sounds of life during and after the war which fills the reader's mind with sounds of terror. Both of these poems are written with completely different structures, but use similar language and literary devices. The themes are based around powerful subjects and although they are different, they are still based around horror, evil and love. ...read more.

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