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Comparing and Contrasting The poems 'Vultures' by Chinua Achebe and 'What were they like?' by Denise Levertov.

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Introduction

Comparing and Contrasting Two Poems. The poems 'Vultures' by Chinua Achebe and 'What were they like?' by Denise Levertov are the same in that they both about war and conflict between two different tribes or regions within one country. Both poems reflect the effects of war and how can dramatically change history. Chinua Achebe uses vultures to explore his thought and ideas of war. He starts by introducing us to their foul diet of dead humans and animal flesh, and then they appear to care and love for one another. Achebe feels that people should be hopeful that the goodness and love will one day overcome the evil inside others an that deep down there lies goodness and love in even the worlds most evil people, like Aldolf Hitler for example. Vultures is about the Biafran War in Nigeria which began in 1967 between the Hausan and Yoruban tribes. The poem is also about the concentration camps in Belsen. The theme of the poem is to show a contrast between good and evil. ...read more.

Middle

Although the themes of the poems are practically the same each poet delivers their point in different ways and also describes different aspects of war. Chinua Achebe choose to describe war from the side of the commanders and soldiers and Denise Levertov choose to describe war from the side of the countries people and how war effected them. The meaning of each poem lives up to the titles. By reading the title 'Vultures' you immediately think of the scavenger creature. And 'What they were like?' a phrase like this will be used to describe how something or someone was meaning they are no longer like that. In the poem 'they' are no longer the way they were because 'they' have been killed and forgotten about, 'they' meaning the peasant of Vietnam during the war. Denise Levertov uses the word 'Sir' more than once. I think she choose to use this word to show how soldiers would address their commanders. Denise Levertov uses a unique structure for the poem. ...read more.

Conclusion

In Levertov's poem she says 'their singing resembled the flight of moths in the moonlight. Who can I say? It is silent now'. This reflects how people especially the men who caused the suffering, would rather forget the horrendous images of dying innocence and pretend it never happened. For example, 'Sir, their light hearts turned to stone. It is not remembered whether in gardens stone lanterns illumined pleasant ways ' this means that it is not remembered because when the land was bombed the people and land was burnt down to nothing. The poems appear on the outside to be about simple ideas but between the lines there are some powerful thoughts. Vultures seem to be about the disgusting creature, Chinua Achebe uses them only to comment of a particular type of people. In what were they like? It seems to be only about individuals-the peasants but it's really about big political events. Vultures symbolises people who benefit from others who are suffering and again this also contrasts with the Northern Communists in Vietnam who won a brutal war at the expense of innocent people. ...read more.

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