‘Stealing’ is also about an anonymous character. Duffy uses phrases that help us picture the characters feelings about his life. He tells us how he destroys the snowman by kicking it to bits, all because he was ‘bored’ and ‘sick of the world’. Although, he does admit that this account of his actions sounds strange and that people ‘don’t understand him’. I believe that Duffy could be using these phrases because she may have felt like this before or knows some one that has been in the same situation. As both of the poems are about anonymous people, this could suggest that she cares more about the personality of the people in the poems and that she is not as interested in the looks, dress code or features.
‘War Photographer’ uses the present tense. I believe that this gives it a sense of immediacy and significantly enhances their impact on the reader. Because of this it makes the poems more personal and formal.
Between the two poems there are themed links; these being the shallowness of modern society, motives behind theft and compassion for fellow society members. I believe that Duffy has chosen two effective ways that show the shallowness of our modern society: these being theft and war dilemmas. Duffy portrays these as being erroneous and matters that should not occur in our modern society. This shows her compassion for our society and understanding of the world.
Duffy describes the two poem’s subjects in a negative way. She uses both negative and shallow words in them. In ‘Stealing’ she uses downbeat phrases such as ‘as cold as the slice of ice within my brain’, this is an effective simile and describes the cold and thoughtless mind of the thief. It portrays the thief as a cold-hearted individual and this gives them their persona in the poem. ‘A hundred agonies’ and ‘ a half-formed ghost’ are both successful metaphors used in ‘War Photographer’. These portray depressing thoughts and feelings for the reader showing the shallowness of our society. It gives us the feeling of pain and ‘suffering’ which I think is what Duffy must have been felling when she wrote this poem. I also believe it shows that Duffy is against both of the related topics: theft and war.
Duffy describes all of the characters in the poem as if they are always alone and secluded from the rest of the world. I believe that she did this to portray a more vivid image of the characters and their surroundings. I believe that Duffy wanted the readers to understand the situations the characters were in to create a more effective image of how they were at the time and how their surroundings influenced their job, such as when the thief needed a quiet and secluded area so that he could steal the items. In ‘Stealing’ Duffy explains that when the snowman was stolen it was ‘Midnight’. This being when there is little noise and no people around. I believe that ‘Midnight’ means dark and silent and when evil things take place, which in his case is true. The darkness is also a contrast with the snow and makes the reader get a feeling of coldness and eeriness.
I believe that ‘War Photographer’ shows Duffy’s feelings in a more compassionate way, this making them more obvious to the reader. This is because I believe she pleads to the reader in some lines of the poem, ‘Home again // to ordinary pain which simple weather can dispel, to fields which don’t explode beneath the feet // of running children in a nightmare heat’ and ‘A hundred agonies in black-and-white // from which is editor will pick out five or six // for Sunday’s supplement’. I believe that Duffy uses these emotive words to show her feelings of anger and how we take things for granted. Duffy tells us in the poem that the war photographer earns his living from the pain of other people, that his job is very repetitive and that we are not a caring society. I also consider the emotions in this poem to be a significant amount stronger. I believe she does this by using visual imagery. This is both strong and powerful. For example: ‘running children in a nightmare heat’ is an influential image of pain and unhappiness. The photographer in his ‘darkroom’ could suggest the darkness that fills his mind after all of the terrible events that he has witnessed. I believe that the sibilance of ‘Spools of suffering set out in ordered rows’ is used to emphasise the link between the films and the pictures they will reveal. The ‘ordered rows’ also reminds me of rows of body bags, full of the victims of war.
The tone of this poem makes me assume that she is praising the war photographer and sympathising with those suffering through war, particularly women and children. In the final line, we are told that the readers of the poem ‘do not care // where’ the photographer goes, as if to say that we do not care ‘where’ war is occurring and ‘where’ people suffer so much. This conveys Duffy’s attitude to other people. I believe she is saying that we live in a peaceful country that is ‘rural England’ and have no real idea of what true suffering is and we are too complacent to find out.
The language of both poems is significantly different in many ways. ‘War Photographer’ is written in the third person, which I believe adds to the effectiveness of the poem, making Duffy’s feelings particularly vivid. It is written in a colloquial style and uses no complex words. It is my understanding that this is to make the poem more straightforward to understand, therefore more realistic for the reader. Although ‘Stealing’ is about ‘I’, it is not the poet herself who is talking. The fact that we cannot tell whether the person telling the poem is male or female makes it deliberately ambiguous as it is a mystery voice and we have to make our own judgment.
‘War Photographer’ contains stark statements such as ‘blood stained into foreign dust’ and ‘the readers eyeballs pricked with tears’. This adds to the deep emotion of the poem and makes the reader sympathize with the photographer. I believe this shows Duffy’s feelings for the war photographer.
The language in ‘Stealing’ is completely dissimilar to that of ‘War Photographer’. It is set out in the form of a dramatic monologue and has the persona of a thief. The speaker glamorises himself and his actions, almost as if he is imagining himself as a true professional. ‘I sigh like this – Aah’, makes it seem that he has been stealing for a long time and knows how and when to do it to make sure it goes smoothly.
The poem opens with a question that seems to be the repetition of a question some one has asked him; ‘The most unusual thing I ever stole’. He continues to talk to the readers throughout the poem and so the language of the poem sounds like natural speech. The poem also finishes with a question: ‘You don’t understand a word I’m saying, do you?’ which is particularly ambiguous and is an overt challenge. I believe this forces us to reflect upon the poem, the feelings of the anonymous thief and makes us feel directly involved.
Some of the language in ‘Stealing’ is violent and disparaging. ‘My breath ripped out in rags’ and ‘I’m so bored I could eat myself’. I believe that this is meant to shock and surprise us to emphasise the lack of order in the speaker’s life and to also convey relatively pessimistic feelings towards the subject.
The form of both the poems is entirely diverse from one another. ‘War Photographer’ is written in four regular stanzas, which helps to emphasise the regular, monotonous pattern of the photographer’s job. It starts with him arriving home from one job and ends with him leaving for the next one, as if his life runs in a cycle.
Although ‘Stealing’ is written in five different stanzas, there is no regularity in the lines. ‘I joy-ride cars // to nowhere’ and ‘My breath ripped out // in rags’ are examples of enjambment which help us ‘act out’ what is being described to us.
I believe that Duffy conveys a considerable amount of variety of her feelings to us through both of the poems. In ‘Stealing’ she is examining someone else’s attitude to life; ‘Better off dead than giving in. I was…sick of the world.’ This is what I believe she wanted to convey to us the most as she thinks that it is the most important. I believe she is also trying to understand why anyone would want to commit a senseless crime. We see the character’s pessimistic attitude; although he would like his life to be glamorous, he is reduced to getting satisfaction from stealing a snowman and ‘things I don’t need’. In ‘War Photographer’ I believe Duffy intended to convey to us that a war photographer does an important and heroic job, yet he is not appreciated and that a war photographer earns his living through recording the pain of other people.