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Comparison of Ballad of the Bread Man and Innocents Song by Charles Causley and Journey of the Magi by T. S. Eliot

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Introduction

Comparison of "Ballad of the Bread Man" and "Innocent's Song" by Charles Causley and "Journey of the Magi" by T. S. Eliot The subject matter of "Ballad of the Bread Man" is the religious story of the birth, life and death of Jesus. It has all the main events of the traditional story but it is done in a modern style. The meaning of the story remains but most of the particulars have changed. For instance in the poem a "bishop", "five start general", and a "head of an African country" represent the kings. Charles Causley has bought the story up to date so it appeals to people living today, especially younger people. Children might not understand the Bible version of the story so Charles Causley has made it more accessible and understandable for them. The poem is divided into twenty stanzas with four lines in each. There is a strict rhyming scheme that applies to the entire poem with no exceptions. In every stanza the last word on the second and fourth lines rhyme, for instance "bread" and "said" in the first stanza. There is a simple rhythm present, and it is very repetitive and familiar. The reason why the poem is so regimented with its structure, rhyme and rhythm is because it is a "Ballad" as it says in the title. The title "Ballad of the Bread Man" is very important. Ballads are very ancient poems that tell a story. Most ballads have a simple and recognisable form, structure and features. This is because originally ballads were passed on by word of mouth. They needed to be simple so they would be remembered. The "Bread Man" part of the title is a metaphor for the goodness of Jesus. Bread is mentioned in the Bible many times. It reminds you of "The Last Supper", "Loaves and Fishes", the bread used in the Holy Communion service, and in the saying "Give us today, our daily bread". ...read more.

Middle

The reference Causley makes to "gin" is interesting too as alcohol is sometimes known as the "devil's drink". All of these words are part of the menacing picture that is created of Herod by Causley. The poem is overall an insight into what it would feel like to be the innocent child at the time of Herod. I found the poem dark and at some times alarming. Throughout the poem Causley chooses each word extremely well to convey the fearsome story. I believe Charles Causley chose to get inside the head of an innocent child in order to make this story more effective. The story is based on a Christian story but Charles Causley has looked at it in a totally different angle. The poem really touched me and made me think. I enjoyed this poem the most out of the three I am discussing. The subject matter of "Journey of the Magi" is the story of the birth of Jesus but it looks more at the three kings and their journey. That is why the poem is called "Journey of the Magi" because the word magi mean kings. The reason I think Eliot chose to use the word "magi" instead of kings was because it sounds more enchanting. The story is told by one of the three kings in the story. The structure of the poem is interesting. It is divided into two stanzas, the first one being much longer than the second. The first stanza explains and describes the journey up until the kings "finding the place". The final stanza carries on after the meeting and conveys what affect the meeting had on the kings. There is no evident rhyme scheme in the poem. The piece is not so regimented in its structure with there being a variety of length of lines throughout. This makes it a non-repetitive and complicated rhythm when read aloud. ...read more.

Conclusion

When I think of Christmas I immediately think of happy thoughts such as bright colours, presents, and family. These poems remind me that Christmas is not necessarily a happy time. All the poems deal with negative aspects of Christmas and remind you of the some of the upsetting, frightening and unpleasant points of it. I instantly enjoyed "Ballad of the Bread Man" because it was very easy to understand and lines such as "they stored him safe as water" until "he burst out like a jack-in-the-box" made me laugh. I also understood the message of how people ignored Jesus most of the time in his life. "Innocent's Song" is different to "Ballad of the Bread Man" because it is a lot more sinister. However when you look closely at how the two poems are made up using such things as imagery and rhyme you can tell that they are in some way related. I enjoyed "Innocent's Song" because the imagery was quite original and the overall poem was very tender and emotive. I thought "does the salty snow run red?" was a really dramatic line and the thought of the innocent child really moved me. "Journey of the Magi" is noticeably different to the two Causley poems even in its layout. Although some of the techniques of language are similar it is clear different poets wrote them. "Journey of the Magi" is more complicated and harder to comprehend. I liked the final stanza where Eliot asks if the birth of Jesus was a "birth or death?" The message in this poem is more diverse and unusual and that's what I liked about it. The three poems all deal with different stories about Christmas and from different perspectives. They are each trying to teach the reader something different and they are also aimed at different audiences. They use some similar methods in their language to convey their messages but at the same time they are distinguishable. The two Causley poems are the most alike while the Eliot poem really stands out and is very unique. ...read more.

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