Mother there are no stanza breaks and enjambment

Mother in a Refugee Camp is based on the tragic story of a mother burying her child in a refugee camp in the midst of the Nigerian civil war. It is often written as a free flow poem without any stanzas. Chinua Achebe also wrote it without any rhyme scheme, making it sound more like free speech rather than a song or poem. Since there are no stanza breaks and enjambment is used effectively the poem is uninterrupted allowing the reader to be fully immersed into the tragic scene. Achebe uses a variety of verse lengths, pauses and enjambment to change the pace of the poem. At the start of the poem the verses increase in length slowing down the tempo allowing the horrific imagery to settle into the mind of the reader.  Enjambment is used effectively throughout the poem reflecting on what could perhaps be the mother’s endless stressful and painful ordeal of grooming and cleaning her child just to prolong the inevitable.Mother in a Refugee Camp by Chinua Achebe presents suffering through a mother’s grief and loss. He accomplishes this using a variety of language techniques. Achebe uses vivid imagery to effectively portray the suffering of the mother and the people in the camp. An example of such imagery is, “unwashed children with washed out ribs”, by directing it towards children emphasises the extent of the suffering at the camp due to their innocence, harmlessness and helplessness. Children would normally be the first to receive any kind of aid, however since Achebe presents children in such an atrocious state this highlights the suffering and abandonment of these people, suggesting that they have received no form of aid. Achebe emphasises how much this mother loved her son, “Other mothers there h ad long ceased to care, but not this one”. Achebe juxtaposes this devoted mother in contrast to the rest who have lost hope, highlighting her as an exception and amplifying her love for her son. Thus by doing this he in turn amplifies her suffering compared to the rest of the mother’s due to her hope and devotion. The mother and her son had already been suffering from poverty, “their bundle of possessions”. The selection of the word bundle signifies the extent of their plight. Despite her minimal possessions the mother still had her son but now, he has also been stolen from her leaving her alone with her small “bundle of possessions”. Achebe brings attention to the significance of what we would consider everyday activities, “combs the rust coloured hair left on his skull”. An event most of us would consider an insignificant daily ritual, to them is one of the last moments a mother shares with her son. This contrast highlights the severity of the situation at the camp, rust coloured hair is also a symptom of severe malnutrition signifying the suffering the child had to undergo before his untimely death. Achebe also uses the word skull instead of head, this indicates that the child has already died and the mother is still combing his hair, again emphasising her devotion to him and how she is not prepared to let him go. Achebe effectively portrayed suffering through the adversity and anguish faced by these people in this camp and the tragic story of a mother’s final goodbye to her dear son.In the poem Nettles Vernon Scannell presents the theme of suffering through post traumatic stress disorder. The poem is written as an extended metaphor of war to represent the poet’s disturbed past. He uses a lexical field of war and military, “regiment of spite”, “green spears”, “funeral pyre”, “fallen dead” and “recruits”. This lexical field builds on the extended metaphor of war throughout the poem. We can comment on the oxymoronic effect of the words nettle bed; how the comforting connotations of bed juxtapose to the harmful nature of the nettles. By referring to them as green spears, he continues the extended metaphor of war. This emphasises the extent of the poet’s mental scarring, indicating that his suffering was so deep that it has influenced the entire theme of his poem. His parental anger motivates him to destroy the plants that wounded his son, the extended metaphor is resumed referring to the nettles as a “fierce parade” linking them to invading troops. Scannell ends the poem continuing the extended metaphor referring to the growing nettles as “recruits” highlighting his troubled and disturbed psyche. The poem is closed with a reminder that no matter how much we try to protect our loved ones from suffering it is inevitable and unavoidable. The nettles symbolize the suffering of life and its certainty.Louis MacNeice uses structure to represent the theme suffering of the world in his poem Prayer Before Birth. The poet has structured the poem to resemble a prayer signifying the desperation of the unborn child, there is no particular rhyme scheme but the word “me” is repeated at the end of the first and last verse of each stanza, the continuous repetition helps create the prayer like rhythm. MacNeice also wrote it in the structure of a psalm, this supports the prayer like theme of the poem, suggesting  that the world is in a destructive state – that the foetus is forced to resort to praying to higher powers to be rescued from the war torn society it is soon to be born into. The prayer like structure is juxtaposed by the darkness and despair of the poem, “blood-baths roll me”, “mountains frown at me”, this phrase in particular symbolises the depression that the Earth is in. Mountains are one of the integral parts of the Earth’s landscape, mountains frowning connotes that the Earth itself is in sorrow and despair due to the dark times it  is witnessing, this complements the misery and suffering of the world. There is a imperative at the start of each stanza apart from the last, such as “provide me”and “rehearse me”. In the last stanza it is “Otherwise kill me”. We see the foetus demanding basic necessities of a child but the world is in such a state of agony that even the foetus knows its demands may not be met. It  has reached the point of desperation where it refuses to exist in a world where its needs are not met and prefers death than to lead such a tormented existence.


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