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Poetry combines words and structure to appeal to our senses: to make us feel - How does this statement apply to Louis Macneice's "Prayer Before Birth"?

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Introduction

Poetry combines words and structure to appeal to our senses: to make us feel. How does this statement apply to Louis Macneice's "Prayer Before Birth"? It was once said that "poetry uses the best words in the best order." In many cases, poetry helps us associate the given situation with our life and feelings. "Prayer Before Birth", written by Louis Macneice during a time of conflict, uses various technical devices such as soaring stanzas, a progressing structure, chanting rhythm and confronting imagery to strengthen the message of the poem: corrupted and turbulent society we live today and the affected future generation. Throughout the poem, we find series of contrasting and confronting images that emphasizes the violence and the corrupt nature of humankind. "I am not yet born; O hear me". The idea of a baby looking for attention and care before it is born is very confronting to the "Blood baths", "Black racks" and "tall walls" that the "human race" provides. The use of these conflicting images and the baby pleading creates a powerful voice, with a sense of innocence that expose the reality we live in. In order reinforce this message; the poet uses juxtaposed imagery in stanzas two, three and four. ...read more.

Middle

It then needs rehearsing to be corrected and then it needs support to be "filled...with strength against those who would freeze my humanity". "I am not yet Born" is the statement made at the beginning of each stanza. This is used to intensify the message of the poem and it is used to reinforce the confronting emotions, since it indicates a child pleading before birth, before it could ever experience anything from this world. It is very persistent, because it appears at the beginning of each stanza. This stress the urgency for change in this world before is too late; before the baby is born. The verbs at the beginning of each stanza are imperative. This suggests the idea that the baby is giving orders to God to change this world of sin and provide the baby "water to dandle", "trees to grow" and a "white light". This stresses the fact that the poem is a prayer, as the title "prayer before Birth" suggest. This makes it confronting to the reader, since this "prayer" is not answered but is ignored and contradicted by this world of "treason", "murder" and "sins". ...read more.

Conclusion

Otherwise kill me". In the final stanza the unborn baby makes this ultimatum to force a change. The baby chooses to be "killed" rather than to be converted to a "stone." The word "stone" connotes a senseless being. "Spill me" is polysemous; it can mean two things, "spill" as in birth, since the waters "spill" in the womb when the baby is about to be born and "spill" as in spilling blood; killing. The baby decides to die pure and innocent rather than to live and be like a "cog in a machine" or a "lethal automaton" in this conflicting sinful world. "O fill me with strength against those who could freeze my humanity". Macneice makes good use of juxtaposed imagery, confronting imagery and swelling stanzas to convey the message of the poem. Macneice uses the image of a baby talking before it is born to make the reader understand the desires of human beings and to make us feel compassionate towards the future generation. The poet overshadows the benevolence and kindness in nature with the negative aspects of humanity. Although this poem does not have a particular audience, it is directed to everyone in general. This unborn child speaking this dramatic monologue could be any one of us. Karen Chang 9th GPL ...read more.

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