Bedtime Story


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  • Created by: Georgina
  • Created on: 23-05-11 18:10

Bedtime Story

There is a strong rhythm in the opening verses and the pattern of stresses is how the regularity of rhythm is achieved - and the poem moves at a fast pace.  The short fourth line of each verse interrupts the rhythm, but the use of enjambment swiftly picks this up at the beginning of the ext verse.  The rhythm becomes halting at times and the flow is lost, this is particularly clear in verses 6 and 11.  And this seems to happen at dramatic moments in the poem, when the swift jogging pace would not be appropriate.

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The human race has been reduced to just one last living man - in verse 4 the wars have wiped out civilisation in temperate zones, so all the survivors are either in the tropics or in the remote parts of the world.  The fatal wound on the human race is self inflicted - Note that man is the ‘penultimate primate', presumably the monkey he is stalking is the last!   The dominant species now seems to be a giant insect, perhaps an ant ‘foraging detail', ‘green-fly', ‘jaws', round eyes', ‘forked arms', ‘soldier' ‘worker', Perhaps it is impossible to pin it down to one species, but perhaps a mutation, the result of the nuclear wars that destroyed mankind.

The last human survivor is described as a pathetic creature living in an almost stone-age existence, mud caked, half-armed, frightened.  Yet he is still aggressive towards other species - another trait which led to his own destruction.

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Is this poem a warning to the human race - this is made clear in the final comparison with the dodo.  To treat other species the way humans do, to have no respect for other life forms or even our own, is to lead to self destruction.  It is also a warning for the offspring of the narrator, the audience for this bedtime story;  a lesson should be learned from the fate of the human race.

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