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COMPARING TWO POEMS An example and how to do it

I am writing a comparison of two poems, Dolphins in Blue Water by Amy Lowell and Pigeons by Richard Kell. In Dolphins the poet describes a dolphins movements against a sunset: In Pigeons the poet describes a flock of pigeons on a hot summers day. Both poems are about animals, their appearance and their movements. Neither poem rhymes although Pigeons is written in verses of irregular length. Dolphins has a rapid, energetic pace and tone, much like the animal it describes. Alternatively, Pigeons has a slow pace and an overall peaceful tone, suiting its subject, but also moments of humour. Dolphins in Blue Water begins with shouted instructions, Hey! Crackerjack jump! This is an unusual, abrupt opening which, although seeming a trainers instructions to a tame dolphin, also grabs the readers attention. The poem goes on to describe, in short, broken lines, a series of visual impressions of the dolphin in rapid, Swirl, flick, flitter, movement. The use of onomatopoeias helps the reader visualise the energy of the animal and the short lines emphasise the rapidity of its movements. The poet seems to abandon sentence-grammar in an attempt to convey the range of things to be seen and noted. The lines lengthen in a mid-poem climax or crescendo as the dolphin leaps, Straight and shoot at the sky, All rose-flame drippings before the short-line pattern is resumed. When the dolphin has disappeared under the surface, gone, the poet focuses the readers attention on the sunset-tinted water and upon the sky, using sensuous, alliterative, euphonic language: Slipping liquid lapis-lazuliTintings of pink and ochreUnderneath a windy sky. Overall, Amy Lowell has tried to convey the sense of an energetic animal through an energetic use of language. In contrast to the shouted opening lines of Dolphins, Pigeons begins with a quiet, description of how the birds paddle with staccato feet/In powder pools of sunlight. Both paddle and staccato are onomatopoeic and effective in creating an impression of the birds movements, in a way that is similar to how the poet of Dolphins conveyed his subjects movement. The alliteration of powder pools interestingly conveys the heat and dryness of the summer through an image of wetness, which also forms a link with the first poem. Whereas the poet of Dolphins seemed concerned with communicating the animal s rapidity and energy, Richard Kell offers a series of amusing, well-observed images of the pigeons movements: Strutting like fat gentlementhey stump aboutheads like tiny hammers. Unlike in Dolphinsthe poem is written in lines which form grammatically sensible sentences. The longer lines slow the pace of the poem and, whereas the frequent Caesura in Dolphinsmakes the poem jumpy and nervous, here it creates thoughtful pauses which pacify and calm the reader. Richard Kell, like the poet of Dolphinsuses sensuous, Euphonic language to describe his subject : Elusive ghosts of sunshine/Slither down the green gloss/Of their necks . Interestingly both poems draw a section to a close with the same word gone. They also have in common the imagery of water, inevitable in Dolphins but surprising, and pleasing, in Pigeons: powder-poolslimpid fathomsslow bubblesThey fountain into the air. Both poems are about animals and their movements and both poets use language in a way appropriate to their chosen subject. Each poet uses a range of poetic devices, although Amy Lowell seems to focus on onomatopoeic description as her main effect. Richard Kell, on the other hand, seems to prefer the possibilities of imagery. I prefer Pigeons because of this amusing and thoughtful ability to convey many ideas, beyond a simple evocation of pleasurable sight, through economic language. Begin by writing a few general statements about both poems. Describe their basic content. Describe their structure. Identify their overall Tones and try to explain how they are created.

Go through the first poem line by line, analysing significant effects, ie. What helps creates Pace, Rhythm, Tone? At least try to comment upon how the poem begins, what happens in the middle, how does it end? Make use of technical terms but only to explain. Weakest students think it enough to describe:He uses a simile in line three. (Why?)

Try to do the same detailed analysis for the second poem but use comparative terms to keep linking the two poems: In contrast to thisWhereasAlternativelyetc.

At least try to compare the beginning, middle and end of both poems.

Sum up at the end with more general statements about both poems. State your preference and give reasons, using some appropriate technical vocabulary.