• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Compare and contrast 'Prayer Before Birth' and 'The Second Coming'

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

´╗┐Compare and contrast 'Prayer Before Birth' and 'The Second Coming.' The Second Coming was written by Yeats in the early 20th century, during the aftermath of the First World War. This event has clearly shaped the view of the poem, causing it to be a very cynical reminder of the birth and sacrifice of Jesus. Yeats believed that the world was on the threshold of an apocalyptic revelation, as history reached the end of one age, but was greeted by the characters of the next. The poem shows the contrary forces at work in history and brings the conflict between the ancient and modern world to life. Prayer Before Birth, written at the height of the second world war also has a religious overtone to it, and the unborn foetus is used as a metaphor for Christ. In this poem, MacNeice emphasizes how harsh and ruthless the world is and how it has the ability to strip even and unborn baby of its innocence. ...read more.

Middle

When some commit anarchy, others are bound by the consequences of the anarchist's actions and are paradoxically not free to be anarchic themselves. Prayer Before Birth has shorter stanza's than The Second Coming, thus giving it a more worried, nervous pace and tone to it. The longer stanzas in The Second Coming gives the impression of surrender and the chaos that the poem refers to is not echoed by the structure. Other imagery used include seas full of blood and drowning. Those who are "the best" of this society are apathetic, and those who are "the worst" are in your face with "passionate intensity". Yeats is picturing in this poem a society turned upside-down and headed toward self-destruction and chaos. The lion with the head of the man is an interesting image in his poem, almost seeming to come straight out of the Book of Revelation in the Bible. The lion has the predatory power, strength and authority, and the head is that of a man, but a man with "a gaze blank and pitiless as the sun". ...read more.

Conclusion

This kind of language gives the poem a negative feel to it. Similarly, In The Second Coming, Yeats uses language such as 'fall apart,' 'anarchy,' 'blood-dimmed,' 'drowned,' 'pitiless,' 'nightmare' and 'beast.' This choice of language had the same effect as when used in Prayer Before Birth and makes the poem seem quite dark and adds tension to both of the poems. The use of light(or lack of light) is used in both poems to help with the imagery. In Prayer Before Birth, MacNeice says 'a white light in the back of my throat to guide me.' This use of light symbolises a glimmer of hope for the narrator and is used in a positive way. On the contrary, Yeats says in The Second Coming 'the darkness drops again' and he also refers to shadows. This is the opposite to how light is used in Prayer Before Birth, because here there is a lack of light. That shows the contrasts between the poems and that in Yeats' poem, there is less hope and optimism. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Comparative Essays section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Comparative Essays essays

  1. The Historyof War Poetry and the works of Wilfred Owen

    The subject contrasts the living death he is now facing with the youthful pleasures he had enjoyed "before he threw away his knees"; he goes on to recall the impetuous and frivolous circumstances in which he had joined up to fight in the war.

  2. Poetry and Melancholy in Sheers Examination of Welsh Identity

    At the end of Resistance, Sarah mourns the fact that her 'memories are no longer of any use to her in her altered world.' In an almost Chatwin-esque notion, Sheers proposes that our ambitions are nothing but dreams and memories; it is their pursuit that is tragic, as it grounds us in one place, forever trying in vain.

  1. In this essay I am going to compare the following poemsCrossing the Bar and ...

    This is because Roger Mcgough has an irregular attitude over death and he wants the audience to see this from the way in which he has structured his poem. The poet does not use a set rhyme scheme but a more mixed up one.

  2. Characters created by Eliot and Yeats in their Poetry

    would be replaced by an ugly image of a still body laying upon a table of some sort, depending on the readers own experiences and background, it may be a steel table like found in an operating theatre, or simply a wooden dinner table.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work