• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

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

Extracts from this document...


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.


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.


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.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Chinua Achebe: Vultures section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Chinua Achebe: Vultures essays

  1. Vultures - poem review.

    * The germ (line 48) of love does not seem to grow as a normal seed would because the perpetuity of evil (line 50) is bound up with it and prevents it from developing. (Think of wheat germ rather than disease-carrying germs.)

  2. Refugee mother and her child by Chinua Achebe - Explain what the poem is ...

    "Rust-coloured" is the colour of a dark-haired person's hair when he or she has an inadequate diet. The hair signals that the child is incredibly unhealthy and on the verge of dying. In line 11: "...hair left on his skull..."

  1. To what extent do you feel that Achebe intends the reader to be sympathetic ...

    There are also individual aspects to Ibo society, each person has his or her own 'chi' or personal God. This personal God is to watch over a person and protect them, it is believed that some people have a stronger chi than others, and they will achieve a higher standing in the society.

  2. Comparsion of Anthology Poetry (Two Scavengers and

    I believe the poet is mocking the American democracy by sarcastically referring to 'democracy' which implies equality; having shown that these two sets of people can never be equal. He draws attention to the importance of this last sentence by using similar sounding words 'seas' and 'democracy'.

  1. Comparison Between "Vultures" and "What Were They Like?"

    evil is shown in the sense that all the goodness of the Vietnamese has been taken away from them. The poem is a question and answer poem and the poem is about the civil war between the communist North of Vietnam and the capitalist South.

  2. Vultures by Achebe is a very vivid and memorable poem. It has evocative images ...

    By doing this he forces the reader to pause at each word, and create itself two different images which makes him focus on the word "swollen".

  1. Compare 'Vultures' by Chinua Achebe and 'What were they like?' by Denise Levertov

    Denise Levertov cleverly selects the finest aspects of traditional Vietnamese life as the subject of the questions. This is her way of reminding her readers about what has been lost, due to war. The questioner asks about their ornaments, worship of nature, laughter, poetry and song.

  2. From two / three poems you have studied, write about how the poets bring ...

    of Belsen can slaughter innocent lives but still can "stop at the wayside sweet-shop and pick up a chocolate for his tender offspring". In the last stanza Achebe summarizes the poem using strong and powerful language, "tenderness encapsulated in icy caverns of a cruel heart" this is very effective because it's an oxymoron.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work