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The poem Ispahan Carpet written by Elizabeth Burge explores the cruel conditions the makers of a carpet sweat shop are subjected to.

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Introduction

Ispahan Carpet The poem Ispahan Carpet written by Elizabeth Burge explores the cruel conditions the makers of a carpet sweat shop are subjected to. She does this by taking the reader through a showroom of carpets and workers accompanied by a tour guide. The poem is seen through the eyes of tourist witnessing the process first hand. Burge uses descriptive adjectives and to convey the speakers sympathy towards the child weavers. She creates an atmosphere of hopelessness and despair using images of light and dark as the speaker is guided through the shop, quickly realising all importance is placed on the carpets, leaving the workers shadowed in the background. The speaker then takes time to reflect on the hopeless destructiveness of the process, wondering how it is possible to 'unravel' the generational suffering. The reader is quickly aware that the speaker of the poem is extremely sympathetic towards the children weaving the carpets. The poet uses adjectives such as 'silent' and 'sallow' to convey the sound of silence pervading the air every day as the family works, and the harsh conditions they are working under. ...read more.

Middle

this idea is further supported when the 'cavernous hearth[s]' 'flickering' 'light' illuminates the carpets 'coloured' interwoven patterns 'shadowing the makers of the webs'. This clear focus one the carpets evokes an atmosphere of hopelessness and wasted potential. In the fourth Burge moves away from her direct focus on the speakers observation to more of a reflective mood, commenting on the hopeless destructiveness of the process. Using an apostrophe after the opening of 'O' seems as though the speaker is giving a sigh of hopeless despair against the people 'whose whole horizon is the carpet' selfishly desiring it's 'traditional beauty' irrespective of the consequences for the young children who slave away making them. Focussing on the 'eyes' shows the reader how blinded people can be, choosing to focus only on the 'most desired Tabriz or Karmenshah' carpets in front of them not stopping to think who was responsible for their existence. The exclamation after the word 'beauty' makes 'and it's traditional beauty' seem sarcastic, highlighting the stupidity of caring so much about the materialistic aesthetics of a rug when children are working like slaves to make them, suggesting that this tradition is best be undone as selling the carpets according to tradition is only fuelling the continuous vicious cycle. ...read more.

Conclusion

Structurally one of the most significant aspects of the poem is the repetition of 'one hundred' in the third stanza as it, in each line, seamlessly addresses the 'hundred knots in the space of my fingernail' needed to weave a carpet. The 'hundred heart-beats' of children wasted in this work and lastly the harsh reality that for 'one hundred hours' of hard work 'the space of a foot will crush down', someone without any thought of who made the carpet they are walking on. The focus on the number juxtaposed with the destructive consequences forms a powerful parallel to the exquisite quality of the carpets. Ispahan Carpet written by Elizabeth Burge takes the reader on a journey through the sweat shop of a Persian rug makers. They are given an insight into the making of the rugs 'traditional beauty' but more importantly are given a glimpse into the 'hundred[s]' of hours it takes to make them and the terrible conditions workers are subjected to. Being behind the scenes they are able to see the ugly side of carpet making where 'eight-year-old girls' are 'bent like old women'. With this poem Burge urges people to think more carefully about our materialistic needs and who they are made by, hopefully raising awareness of child slavery and eventually 'unravel[ling] the worlds weaving'. Word Count: 1229 Catherine Durham ...read more.

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