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How far do you agree with the view that Mametz Wood is the key to this collection? You should consider both subject matter and style.

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Introduction

How far do you agree with the view that Mametz Wood is the key to this collection? You should consider both subject matter and style. While some of the themes presented in Mametz Wood also appear elsewhere in Sheers' poetry, I do not agree that it is key to the collection as it is not wholly typical. The most significant theme presented in Mametz Wood is the idea of loss, which is portrayed to some extent in almost all of Sheers' poetry. This poem, however, is different as far as subject matter is concerned in that it deals with the loss of life during the war and the subsequent loss of national identity. Other poems in the collection are more concerned with the loss of love and the breakdown of romantic relationships, the most notable examples being Marking Time, Keyways and Valentine who explore the struggle for personal rather than collective identity. The poem which is most similar in subject matter to Mametz Wood is Joseph Jones. Mametz Wood, written as a response to the tragic Battle of the Somme, discusses the 'wasted young' and 'twenty men buried in one long grave'. ...read more.

Middle

Another poem in the collection which can be linked to Mametz Wood is Flag, which also explores the loss of national identity for the Welsh. In Mametz Wood the loss of national identity is conveyed through the references to the dead soldiers and how 'the earth stands sentinel, reaching back into itself for reminders of what happened', symbolising the confusion of the Welsh people. It continues with a simile stating that this is 'like a wound working a foreign body to the surface of the skin', suggesting that the invasion and defeat from foreign countries opposing them during the war has damaged their national pride. As the title suggests, the poem Flag uses a flag to symbolise national identity and begins with a quote by Christopher Logue stating, 'Each man had a liver, a heart a brain and a Flag', emphasising its importance. The lack of national pride is conveyed by stating that they are 'hung up like wet washing' and that 'occasional sun has ghosted the paint to a bad photocopy'. The use of the word 'ghosted' hyperbolically suggests that national identity has ceased to exist in Wales and the flags are merely a reminder of how they used to be. ...read more.

Conclusion

The poem nostalgically remembers their wedding day and them spending the night together. Sexual imagery such as 'I held the bow of your hip' is used, which is fairly typical of the collection. Another key difference between the poems is that Keyways is written in first person whereas in Mametz Wood the narrator is a third party. Mametz Wood is key to the collection to some degree, as themes such as loss and national identity are frequently presented in Sheers' poetry. Conversely, the struggle for personal identity due to loss, particularly following breakdown of a relationship which is likely to be due to Sheers' own experience of marital difficulties is more typical of the collection. As Sheers uses a variety of linguistic structures in the collection, including Haikus, long and short stanzas and poems keeping to a strict format such as in Calendar it is arguable that there is no typical style. The language and style used in Mametz Wood, namely the long sentence structure and natural imagery is very typical, is frequently shown elsewhere in the collection and is, in my opinion, more key to the collection that the subject matter. Page 1 of 2 Marilyn Wilkinson ...read more.

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