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In the poem Prayer before Birth, the poet Louise MacNeice has drawn a picture of a corrupt, hateful and devilish world. Comment on the poetic devices and linguistic techniques he has used to create this image.

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Introduction

'Prayer Before Birth' - Analysis In the poem 'Prayer before Birth', the poet Louise MacNeice has drawn a picture of a corrupt, hateful and devilish world. Comment on the poetic devices and linguistic techniques he has used to create this image. Support your views with substantial evidence. In prayer before birth, Louis MacNeice uses a baby to convey his thoughts and emotions on the current state of the world. MacNeice wishes to emphasize how harsh and ruthless the world is, and how it can strip away a young unborn baby of its innocence. The poem, 'Prayer Before Birth' is a dramatic monologue giving voice to a child in the womb, as yet unspoiled by the ways of the world he is about to enter, and a clean slate on which the world will write his fate. The poem is set out like an appeal, a cry for help. The title itself, using the word "prayer" shows that the baby is trying to get help for something which troubles him- which raises a question; why would a soon-to-be born fetus that has its whole life strewn in front of it be worrying about 'sins' that he hasn't even gotten the chance to commit. ...read more.

Middle

It also suggests the atrocious scene that war has created, also referring to the corruption in the community. Moreover, MacNeice uses repetition to further convey his worry from the hateful world. The most frequently repeated words are 'I' and 'me' suggesting a fear of his own mankind. He also constantly repeats the statement 'O Hear Me' And 'O fill Me', suggesting how the amount off channeled hate from the world is too intense for an innocent baby to handle-almost as if letting out a cry or plea for help. The statement 'I am not yet born' is also repeated quite frequently, showing the innocence of the child as contrasted to the devilish world outside. The technique gives the child's prayer more power as it emphasizes his emotion and brings his fears to life. Another effective device used by MacNeice is contrast where he creates an image of nature, when asking God to provide him with 'grass to grow' and 'trees to talk to [him]'. These images are related to the positive side of the world, bringing out more clearly the piling up corruption surrounding humans. ...read more.

Conclusion

The world seems to be infested with vermin and the poet tries to open our eyes to the wicked reality. MacNeice controls the pace with great charm through punctuation, especially at the end of the poem. The penultimate stanza is one long breathless sentence and the repetition of words and sounds show the agitation of the speaker. At this point, the reader has had the catalogue of possible evils given to him - and now the child prays to be taught how to cope with the worst that the world may throw at him or he will end up a man totally undone, completely lost. Overall, by the end of the poem, we are filled with disdain and disapproval of the state our world has come to. Louis MacNeice has brought us face to face with the undeniable reality through the eyes of an unborn baby. Moreover, as the child is not yet part of the world, the truth is delivered without bias and we come to grips with the actual state of things. The poet has suitably used language to depict a world of corruption and to open our eyes to the horrific truth we shield ourselves from. ...read more.

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