In a ‘Prayer
before Birth’, the poet, Louis MacNeice uses a variety of literary language to
get their point across but also to add effect to their writing.
example of this in ‘Prayer before birth’ is the use of the anaphoric refrain ‘I
am not yet born’ at the beginning of every stanza except the last. This reminds
the reader that the narrator of this poem is still not born. This adds effect
by making us as the reader makes us feel bad as it shows that everyone starts
off the same and these men who are fighting in the wars are no different to
us. The repetition of I am not born is the
unborn baby trying to dodge its way around the blame, it is innocent yet
already being blamed for mistakes in the world.
example ties in with the first in the use of repetition. ‘I am not yet born’ reminds
the reader at the beginning of every stanza that this baby knows what is going
on, on earth yet hasn’t experienced it yet. The other main repetition in the poem
is that of ‘me’ at the end of the first and last line of every stanza except
the last. This ‘me’ makes the poem more personal to the unborn baby, it is
about them rather than the poem being directed at us.
MacNeice combines alliteration with the assonance such as ‘wise lies lure me’ the
alliteration in ‘lies lure’ but the assonance in ‘wise lies’. The assonance in ‘rat’
and ‘bat’ and the alliteration in ‘…the bloodsucking bat or rat…’. This combination
of assonance and alliteration throughout the poem creates a feel of internal
rhyme and different points throughout.
Throughout the third
stanza the personification of ‘trees to talk to me, sky to sing to me…’ This is
MacNeice showing us that because the unborn child knows about the evil doings that
man is doing, he wants to be with nature more. This is made out to be because
nature is pure, man isn’t. However, MacNeice then contradicts herself with ‘the
white waves call me to folly and the desert calls me to doom…’. This suggests that
what MacNeice is trying to portray here is that nature is also bad and
everybody or everything does bad things. This backs up her point of ‘… forgive
me for the sins that in me the world shall commit, my words when they speak me,
my thoughts when they think me’. Here MacNeice is trying to get the fact across
that if we live in this world we are going to do bad things, no matter how hard
The use of
metaphors and similes in the penultimate paragraph also adds effect such as ‘…make
me a cog in a machine…’ or ‘…blow me like thistledown hither and thither…’
These again suggest how little control the unborn bay has on the world and what
evils it will do to it. The baby can try as hard as he wants yet the world will
still force him to do evil things, it even forces nature to do them.
The final and
main technique that MacNeice uses in ‘Prayer before Birth’ is the way the stanzas
are structured. Throughout the poem the lengths of each stanza increase except
stanza 6 here it shortens again. The increasing length of stanzas suggest a
build up to the final, short one. The sixth is different as it only asks and explains
one thing whereas all the others ask for more that. However, the build up
towards the last stanza suggests that is the most important one, that is the one
MacNeice wants to get across to the reader. This is basically saying that the unborn
doesn’t want to be born if any of the rest of the poem doesn’t happen.
Therefore, the literary
techniques and structure of the poem in ‘Prayer before Birth’ help MacNeice get
the reader to feel hurt by it but also to help her get her main points across.
In ‘If’, the poet,
Rudyard Kipling also uses a variety of literary devices which adds effect.
An example of
this would be the way that the anaphora of If, is followed by an answer. The
poet is saying if you do this, the consequence would be this. The repetition of
this technique throughout the poem allows for the poet to keep building up
ideas in the readers heads right up until the end when Kipling tells you that if
you can do all of this, then you will finally ‘…be a Man, my son!’ The build-up,
which is similar to ‘Prayer before Birth’, throughout the poem helps the poet
create that feel of tension as the reader wants to find out what happens if you
do all these things.
The use of
enjambment throughout the poem helps the poem to flow, therefore helping the reader
to understand it. That along with the caesura in ‘Except the will that says to
them: ‘Hold on!” creates contrasting effects as it flows well but then is
stopped by this caesura mid-way through the sentence. This suggests that here
Kipling wants the reader to have a short time to pause and think bout what is
written above but then carry on.
uses the common literary techniques such as the anaphora of ‘If’ or the
alliteration of ‘with worn-out…’ The personification of ‘and not make your
dreams your master…’ is one of the only personifications in the poem which
suggests that Kipling doesn’t want to over exaggerate words in the poem, he wants
to keep it simple to show that he is being serious here, you do need all these
things to become a man.
The title of
the poem and the way it is written makes you as the reader want to read on. ‘If-‘,
just left like that encourages the reader out of curiosity to read on, they
want to know what the tilte is about.The ABABCDCD rhyming scheme from the
second line on suggests that Kipling wanted the first half and second half of each
stanza to be focused on separately as if they bring more points to the poem
rather than just having 4 obvious ones. However, the rhyme of the first stanza
is AAAABCBC. This suggests to me that Kipling wanted this first stanza to stand
out. The poem is about how life is going to throw a few curveballs and
uncertainties at you but yet, in order to become a man, you are going to have to
be able to deal with them therefore I think that the first stanza is the poems
curveball or uncertainty. The structure of the poem apart from the rhyming
pattern stays the same throughout and the even lines have ten syllables therefore
are iambic pentameter. The odd lines however, have 11 syllables and therefore aren’t
quite iambic pentameter. Therefore, the poem has a twisted single sentence
structure which suggests to me that Kipling is trying to represent the fact that
again life is difficult and you are going to have to push through in order to
make it. The twisted single sentence structure is the poems difficult journey
to manhood which in order to be a man, you have to overcome.
The main literary
technique in my opinion that Kipling has used to create effect in throughout the
poem is the repetition of ‘you’. Kipling is talking to his son throughout the
poem. The repetition makes sure the reader is aware of the importance of what
it is. However, although the poem is written to Kipling’s son, the use of ‘you’
creates the feel as a reader that not only is Kipling giving his son advice, he
is also giving you advice at the same time. This helps make the reader be and
feel more engaged in the poem, they want to know what Kipling’s advice is to
them is on how to become a man.
throughout the poem of ‘If-‘, Rudyard Kipling uses a variety of techniques to
portray the poem and to add effects throughout.
both the poets use a varied use of literary effects and some are used in similar
ways, yet others are used completely differently. This is what makes these
poems unique and different and why they appeal to certain people.