Compare the ways in which Duffy and Heaney write about unhappiness and suffering. In your response you must include a critical discussion of at least three poems.

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English Assignment

Word Count: 2,576

Compare the ways in which the poets write about unhappiness and suffering. In your response you must include a critical discussion of at least three poems.

Throughout this comparative analysis, I will discuss the various ways in which the poets use lexis, imagery and structure to convey the sentiment and themes within the text. I have chosen Lizzie, Six and Shooting Stars by Carol Ann Duffy and Requiem for the Croppies by Seamus Heaney. The poems are all linked with suffering by the hands of an oppressive force. Lizzie by her abuser, the Jewish heroine by the Nazi’s and the Irish by the English. The poems offer vivid and individual style to describe mutual suffering within varied circumstances.

The titles of each poem are intended to capture the reader’s attention from the start. Lizzie, Six, is laid out as such to show the youth of the character of Lizzie. Not only in her name being abbreviated in a youthful manner, but the placement of the comma slows the reader down, forcing them to contemplate the purity of a child that age. She is able to establish an immediate sense of dread. In Shooting Stars, Duffy provides us with an ambiguous beginning. ‘Stars’ is representative of the Star of David and ‘Shooting’ in the literal sense of the ‘stars’ being shot. Alternatively, Duffy may have been using the title metaphorically as a shooting star, representative of fleeting life for the Jewish people throughout the Nazi regime. The alliteration in Shooting Stars, is also a mind rhyme for Saal-Schutz, the Nazi SS Army.  In Requiem for the Croppies, ‘Requiem’ defined as ‘a Mass for the repose of the souls of the dead’ is intended to offer peace to the thousands that died at the hands of the English and those that died; being the ‘Croppies’, the Irish men defending their land who cut their hair into a cropped fashion as a sign of rebellion. It is a gesture of praise and thanks and a wish for restfulness for those men whose lives were taken in the uprising of 1798. Samir Raheem describes it as ‘a poem that romantically commemorates the Irish rebels’.(Rahim, Telegraph, 2013). The word ‘Croppies’ is also a rhyme for ‘poppies’, a symbol of remembrance.  

The form and structure is indicative to the main themes of each poem and as a further notion; the suffering the characters, cultures or countrymen have endured. Representative of this is in Lizzie, 6, Duffy lays out the poem in a series of five stanzas with a call and response from the abuser and the abused narrative, typical in nature of a nursery rhyme and resonant particularly to the story ‘Little Red Riding Hood’. Critic Stan Smith describes “Lizzie, Six” as a ‘plangent, Lorcaesque song”.  Barry Wood stated that ‘Duffy knew Lorca’s poetry or at least drew on similar traditions of popular child’s songs and rhymes’ (Wood,, 2007). The structure is repetitive and creates a feeling of tension. The repetition is also significant in the nature of the prolonged abuse, loss of innocence and suffering Lizzie is subjected to. The abuser also remains unidentified as it would be too uncomfortable for the reader to relate to the suffering the abuser inflicts (Morgan, Classnotes, 2015). In Shooting Stars, Duffy keeps the four line stanzas to create a similar notion of repetition of abuse and more likely to emphasize the routine and the standard, desensitised, rhythmic executions carried out by Nazi soldiers. Shooting Stars is written as a first person narrative and similarly to Lizzie’s abuser, her character is unidentified. This however, is to ensure the reader grasps the point that so many other Jews died namelessly during this period of persecution, highlighting the suffering. Heaney in Requiem takes a completely different approach in the structure of the poem and instead lays it out in the form of a sonnet. This is a mark of respect and love for the Irishmen who suffered and a juxtaposition to the ill respect shown by their oppressors. Written from the 3rd person narrative from the perspective of the Irish Rebels. Each line has roughly 10 or 11 syllables to it or just over, dictating the pace and the solemn, valiant story telling sentiment of the poem, an element similar to that of Lizzie. Six.  

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Lizzie, Six uses dark and negative lexis throughout to increase the feeling of the suffering inflicted and the dialogue between the characters is disturbing. The doubling of the words ‘moon’, ‘fields’, ‘love’, ‘wood’ and ‘dark’ in lines 2 and 3 of each stanza are offered primarily in the view of the innocence of a child, i.e. In literature, the moon is commonly linked to imagination and fields to that of freedom etc. Secondly the words are manipulated by the adult abuser, effectively stripping the original association of the word and replacing it with a horrific alternative showing the intention of ...

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