"Bruce Ismay's Soliloquy" by Derek Mahon and "Shore Woman" by Seamus Heaney are both alike in their experiences. Each poem relates a frightening experience at sea however although they contain many similarities, they each contain numerous differences.

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Poetry Assignment Two

“Bruce Ismay’s Soliloquy” by Derek Mahon and “Shore Woman” by Seamus Heany are both alike in their experiences. Each poem relates a frightening experience at sea however although they contain many similarities, they each contain numerous differences. One central difference is the portrayal of the experiences and the reaction evoked by the language used. “Bruce Ismay’s Soliloquy” is the re-telling of when the Titanic sank and evokes little sympathy from the reader, whereas “Shore Woman” is about a woman being traumatized by porpoises attacking her boat at sea and her husbands insensitive, poor treatment of her.

Both poems have no established form or rhyme scheme and are written in free verse. “Bruce Ismay’s Soliloquy” comprises of a single stanza of free verse with long and short lines alternating. The use of run on lines and varying rhyme creates the impression of a natural speaking voice. The poem reads like a direct address from Ismay – a soliloquy. It can be described as a lyric, describing a person’s life or a reflection on a single event. “Bruce Ismay’s Soliloquy” is reflecting on the significance of the sinking of the Titanic and how it has affected him.

“Shore Woman” is also in free verse, although it gives a detailed account of the woman’s experience and her feelings through the aftermath. This poem uses verse paragraphs to elaborate and develop the narrative of the trauma of the sea and describes the subsequent feelings of the speaker.

One central difference between the two poems is our reaction to the principal figure in each poem. Both poems are an attempt to evoke sympathy for the central character, however through the language used, it is apparent that both poems do not achieve this. The language used in “Bruce Ismay’s Soliloquy” is such that mixed feelings are felt towards him. “Bruce Ismay’s Soliloquy” opens with the line-

“They said I got away in a boat”

-The use of “They” is an indication that he is aware of the wrongness of his actions, as “They” is a vague pronoun used to represent the people who are accusing him of cowardice. This initial line makes the speaker look like a coward through the resentful tone used. The speaker’s self-pitying attitude can be seen here as he uses euphemistic language to make himself look better in an attempt to cover up the guilt he feels. Enjambment is used to create a sliding, sinking, effect. This function emphasizes the attempt at making himself out to be a hero for as many lines as he can-

“I tell you

I sank as far that night as any hero”

-This line has an ambiguous meaning. It could represent how all Bruce’s money, finances and his career sank with the ship that night or possibly that his dignity vanquished with his cowardly escape. In line three, the speaker detracts sympathy away from himself by accident. He is very presumptuous in the way he compares himself to the many people he referred to with, “Hero”, that died that night. The use of placing “Hero” on a line separate from the rest of the sentence is an indication to Bruce’s resentfulness and show how he yearns to be known as a hero himself.

In the next line-

“I sat shivering on the dark water”

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-The speaker is attempting to draw sympathy from the reader. However the lines-

“I turned to ice to hear my costly……………….

And shredded ragtime”

-detracts any sympathy felt here. The speaker does not appear to be mourning the loss of all the lives that night, but more so the loss of his career and material assets. He is materialistic in his views as he comments on a list of goods he lost but nowhere does he make any references to the many people who lost their lives on his ship. The dramatic tone in this description-

“…Thundering down in a ...

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