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A Textual Analysis and Response to: In Memory of Zoe Yalland and Tortoise By Andrew Motion.

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Introduction

A Textual Analysis and Response to: In Memory of Zoe Yalland and Tortoise By Andrew Motion. By Christine Read. Both poems represent suffering in the twentieth century, albeit different types. Both are also written in blank verse. This allows the author to write using a very flexible form not being hampered in the expression of thought or syntactic structure by the need to rhyme. The title ‘In Memory of Zoë Yalland’ is stating clearly that this is a memorial to the lady; however, this does not mean that it is an obituary. Although it is written after her death I don’t necessarily see it as an obituary, rather more of an epitaph, and a bitter one at that. Obituaries are generally very generous in their remembrance of the deceased. They usually describe their life and the contributions they made to it, paint a pretty picture of how loved they were and how sadly missed they’ll be. This poem is totally contrary to the norm as regard to obituaries. ...read more.

Middle

Here is a man who has fought wars, seen comrades suffer and die, and is left but a shell of his former self. He has shut himself away from the world, for it’s grievances are nothing compared to what he has seen and experienced. He walks around like you or I and yet in his eyes his turmoil is clearly visible. Nothing is important to him anymore; he wanders day to day, questioning nothing, existing, and drifting like a forgotten spirit. This poem is brimming with bathos. It made me feel melancholy. Zoë’s poem is quite angrily written. There are undertones of bitterness and regret, maybe these are emotions felt by the author for his subject. Words such as ‘dog shit’ and ‘nothing done’ show the harshness of the author’s feelings towards her situation. His tone throughout is sad and regretful, with a hint of unfairness; he knew an awful lot about her life. It paints a very bleak picture of a young, hopeful, yet very sad life that never quite came up to her expectations. ...read more.

Conclusion

His words were cutting, as if to shock the reader into recognising the reality of this awful situation. The text of ‘Tortoise’ in comparison to ‘Zoë’ is quite positive, although in a sad way. ‘So he became a sort of miraculous stone’ suggests that even though he was struggling he overcame his problems and adjusted, even after he had everything ‘shot away’. Everything about the poem suggests a gentle surrender to life’s difficulties. ‘You see?’ is almost like saying, “oh well!” phrases like ‘no question either’, ‘no reason to hurry’ and ‘life is simple’, are all positive, but in the context of the poem it’s as if he has given up, and so, life is no longer difficult. He can’t change what has happened, so he just lives with it, inside his shell. In conclusion I found ‘In Memory of Zoë Yalland to be a very negative poem with harsh realities and no hope, while ‘Tortoise’ was more positive and hopeful, although it still cleverly portrayed suffering using a clever use of language. While ‘In Memory of Zoë Yalland’ bore pathos, ‘Tortoise’ contained bathos. These were two poems both displaying suffering but in entirely different ways. ...read more.

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