English Literature

Comparing poems..

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Poems to compare with Sonnet

Contrast Clarke: The Field Mouse

  • Both poems describe a summer scene and the thoughts it gives rise to
  • Both use simple, everyday language, but in The Field Mouse the scene is full not of joy but of threat (The air hums with jets)
  • The ideas in the Clarke poem are more complex, with the harvest scene interrupted by thoughts of war

Heaney: Blackberry-Picking

Another summer scene, with lots of detailed description of nature, but

  • Blackberry-Picking contains more ambiguous images - scratching briars, dark blobs burning like a plate of eyes
  • By the end, the Heaney poem has become very disturbing, full of rat-grey fungus, stinking and rot
  • Unlike the Clare poem, Blackberry-Picking turns out to be less a description of a natural scene, more a metaphor for disappointment
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Poems to compare with Patrolling Barnegat

Heaney: Storm on the Island

  • Both poems are from a personal viewpoint.
  • Both poems are about a storm at sea. Yet Whitman is Patrolling the beach, almost participating in the storm, while Heaney is prepared, protected in his house.
  • Heaney uses a simile - spits like a tamed cat turned savage - to describe the wild sea; Whitman uses images that are even more menacing, like Shouts of demoniac laughter.
  • Heaney describes the wind attacking - we are bombarded by the empty air. Whitman uses another military image - that of troops moving forward, watchful and firm advancing - to describe the force of the wind. Both images portray the wind as the enemy.       Clarke: Field Mouse:
  • Both poems are from a personal viewpoint, but ...
  • Clarke writes about hidden dangers of haymaking on a summer's day, in contrast to Whitman's vivid portrayal of a beach during a winter storm.
  • Mankind creates the danger in Clarke's poem - man drives the tractor that kills the mouse and man causes wars. However in Whitman's poem the powers in nature create the danger, and mankind is vulnerable.
  • Clarke uses personification to illustrate the suffering caused by haymaking (and the war in Bosnia) - the field lies bleeding. Whitman also uses personification - the high sea running ... incessant undertone muttering - to suggest the hostility of the natural world.
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