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Critical Evaluation Unto Us

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Introduction

Explain the message in the poem "Unto Us" by Spike Milligan. Then by close examination of poetic technique, explain how successful Milligan is in getting his message across. In the poem "Unto Us" by Spike Milligan the poet very effectively conveys his anti-abortion message by using various interesting poetic techniques. The poem is written in first person from the perspective of the unborn child. It describes the foetus' feelings, firstly the baby's excitement to live and then it's reaction to the abortion and the change in feelings towards the parents. The title of the poem is taken from the Bible, it comes from the quotation "unto us a child is born" but in this case the quotation has been cut short. The poet leaves out the second part of the line - "a child is born". By doing this the reader can begin to see what the poem is about, a child which will not be born. Also by quoting the bible in the title we are reminded of, for example, the Catholic church's opinion against abortion. The use of the foetus as the narrator does help to give the poem a strong message. By implying the foetus has thoughts and feelings the reader feels sympathy for the child. Also many people who are pro-choice make the strong argument that the child has no awareness therefore is not alive, but in this poem the foetus is portrayed as being intelligent and perfectly capable of realising what is going on. ...read more.

Middle

Milligan uses very effective word choice to help to bring out the readers sympathy. This can be seen in the lines "I had no say in my being I lived on trust And love". The line "I had no say in my being" portrays the foetus as being helpless and completely dependant on the parents, who little does the foetus know are not deserving of it's trust. The mention of the unborn child relying on "trust" and "love" from it's parents whom the foetus doesn't even know shows the immensely strong bond between parents and their child. The foetus trusts it's parents with it's life and for this reason we feel angry the parents are not realising that they have this important responsibility. The poet highlights the baby's desire to live throughout the first half of poem. This is the purpose of the line "Each part of me was saying A silent 'Wait for me. I will bring you love!". This line emphasises the foetus' devotion to it's parents. It is as though he is trying to convince his parents to have him. The unborn child is again portrayed as vulnerable as he wants his parents to "wait" showing he has no control in the situation. This line makes again makes the reader notice the strong bond the foetus feels for it's parents especially when the child says "I will bring you love". ...read more.

Conclusion

This line makes the reader feel angry as there is no good reason for the baby's much desired life to be ended so abruptly besides the selfish wishes of the parents. The parents' reaction is portrayed by Milligan to be heartless and callous, this develops the readers dislike for the parents. The reaction of the parents is shown in the quotation "When my passing was told My father smiled. No grief filled my empty space." Saying his father "smiled" builds up further dislike for the parents as he is so uncaring about his own child's death. At the end of the poem we are introduced to a new emotion - anger. The foetus has lost it's love and faith in the parents and seems very resentful. I think probably the most chilling line in Milligan's poem is the last line. "My death was celebrated With two tickets to see Danny La Rue Who was pretending to be a woman Like my mother was." I think the reference to the comedian Danny La Rue is there to remind us that this is something which is going on right now in our country. "Pretending to be a woman like my mother was" could mean because she aborted her baby, going against a woman's maternal instincts, she is no longer a real woman. This line accentuates the anger the foetus feels toward it's parents, causing the reader to empathise, and finishes the poem on a very sombre note. ...read more.

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