Compare "War Photograph" by Kate Daniels and "War Photographer" by Carol Ann Duffy.

Authors Avatar

Comparative Poetry Essay                                                               Katrina Walker

Poetry is often used to convey a strong message about humanity. With close reference to the language of two modern war poems, compare and contrast the anti-war messages each poet is trying to portray by describing pictures of conflict across the world and decide which of the two has the most impact on the reader.

“War Photograph” by Kate Daniels and “War Photographer” by Carol Ann Duffy are war poems that both convey similar strong messages about humanity. These poems show our lack of understanding and compassion for the pain and the horrendous conditions which adults and particularly children, living in countries at war, experience. They both evoke momentary sympathy through shocking images of extreme pain and helplessness.

“War Photograph” is a great deal more effective as the writer carefully focuses on the image of a distraught child. The poet provides an emotional and very detailed response to the picture of the young child. This disturbs the reader for a moment and the poet realises our detachment from the situation and in disgust acknowledges the absence of concern we feel for those in countries in conflict as we continue with our own daily routines. The second poem, “War Photograph” has a less successful impact on the reader. The writer has not expressed any opinions nor has put any emotion into the poem, as she is only writing about the photographer’s reactions concerning the photographs he is working on. The photographer only reflects on the distress of the children in the photograph and manages to continue almost emotionless with his job. Although he does briefly feel sympathy he is unable to do anything about it: he merely gets on with his job. At least he is making the world well informed and aware of the tragedies across the world.

The shocking image of a helpless child is conveyed in the first stanza of “War Photograph” where, “a naked child is running…her arms stretched out/her mouth open”.

“A naked child”, this suggests vulnerability and innocence and presents shocking and graphic images evoking pity and sympathy within us. This simple description is followed closely by an account of her movements, “…running along the path towards us, her arms stretched out…” The fact that her she is “running” and “her arms are stretched out” suggests her complete exposure to any harm from gunfire and bombs. It also conjures up an image of longing and need for affection that she does not receive. When we are told her mouth is open, “Her mouth open”, a silent scream of fear, shock and terror is implied. Thinking about this the reader feel sad that there is nothing that they can do to help and comfort the child.

Join now!


In “War Photographer” the vision of children is always conveyed in the lines “…fields which don’t explode beneath the feet of running children in a nightmare heat.” The image of children is hidden within the shocking description of how dangerous the surroundings are there in contrast to where he is now, “fields which don’t explode”. The idea of “running children” is a reminder of the innocence of the youngsters and the reader sympathises with this image. The description of the heat as a “nightmare” connotates the idea of how awful and almost unbearable the heat truly is. This description ...

This is a preview of the whole essay