There Photographer’ by Carol Anne Duffy and ‘Dulce

There are many meanings when it comes to the simple word ‘conflict’. Conflict can come at various levels of severity. Conflict can occur when something isn’t settled to a proper agreement between both of the parties; it could rapidly lose control and result in bloodshed and drastic war. Conflict is portrayed in several ways throughout the poems, ‘War Photographer’, ‘Mother in a Refugee76e in a Camp’ and ‘Prayer before Birth’ in contrast to each other. The poems ‘War Photographer’ by Carol Anne Duffy and ‘Dulce Decorum Est’ by Wilfred Owen, both portray a similar idea of war. One is about experiencing the challenges faced by war and the other is about the horrid scenes being captured. The poems ‘Mother in a Refugee Camp’ by Chinua Achebe and ‘The Right Word’ by Imtiaz Dhraker can both be interpreted as views of the aftermath of violence. “Mother in a Refugee Camp” is about a mother who seeks refuge as she struggles to keep her son alive. “The Right Word” is about a woman unable to find the correct term to use to convey her perspective on who she thinks the silhouette is. “Prayer Before Birth” is of an unborn child, still in the womb of a woman, offering a harsh opinion of the world he/she will be born into. In “War Photographer, Duffy takes the readers inside the job and the thoughts of this man who highlights the difference of those who take comfort in and those who experience the brutality of war. “A stranger’s features faintly start to twist before his eyes.” This quote could be interpreted in many ways. It could mean that the blurred photograph is gradually starting to be clear, showing a man with a ‘twisted’ facial expression, filled with pain and affliction, staring directly back at the camera, displaying his emotions distinctly without even realising it. Perhaps it may be the photographer’s tears clouding his vision allowing the flood of tragic memories come back to his thoughts. Internal conflict is displayed as he is struggling to relinquish from the scarred events. Being a photographer that specializes in war most likely is terribly agonising and heartbreaking as what you would witness will haunt you as the once see, you could never un-see.  “He has a job to do.” It takes someone who is headstrong and determined to pick up the camera and capture the disastrous scenes, taking place in front of him. This quote suggests that the photographer is incapable of admitting that’s it’s more than just a job. He is trying to survive on his own beliefs, that it’s simply just a job. As we read through, Duffy provokes us into feeling a mixture of emotions, going from sympathy to empathy, stopping the easy flow of the poem thus the photographer is doing the same but instead of an emotional conquest, he tries to hide it away and returns to his job, distracting himself using his tragic job with all his thoughts kept away.”The reader’s eyeballs prick with tears between bath and pre-lunch beers.” This quote suggests that people who are safe and sitting comfortably on their cosy couches, do not get affected by the awful stories happening at that point in time. Even as they read through the papers and witness the horrendous photographs, they don’t give it a second’s thought as they carry on with their day like nothing is happening. The photographs are meant to influence them to show a flicker of emotion to those who are fighting to protect those who are safe but still suffering from both emotional and physical pain. However there may be no luck as they do not see the big picture with its true meaning behind it, they just see it as one of the many unnecessary means to their guilt. The word ‘prick’ shows an abrupt and brief pain like a small needle prodding your skin. This suggests that there is no amount of evidence that can make people understand the agony of war, as the pain doesn’t last long for the people to support or cooperate. “Dulce Decorum Est” by Wilfred Owen, is about the horrible tragedy of a soldier’s death from poisonous gases. In contrast, the poems “War Photography” and “Dulce Decorum Est” aren’t exactly alike but they are very similar as they are about the topic of war. “Dulce Decorum Est” is about the poet’s point of view when fighting in World War 1, sharing his experience on the battlefield. Both of the poems acquire a part in which they talk about a dream or flashback during the war, ” In all my dreams, before my helpless sights”. This quote shows us a stronger link between the two as they both are in shock from witnessing traumatizing events to the extent that they feel as if they lose themselves into a gruesome delusion. In the poem “A Mother in a Refugee Camp”, Achebe discusses the grief felt by a mother who bears through the struggle of aiding her dying son and accepting his inevitable death. The poet portrays her as a mother who will always have blind hope towards her helpless son who is no longer in existence, compared to the other mothers in the camp who have lost hope. The quote “Other mothers there had long ceased to care, but not this one” suggests that the mother does not want to let go of the reality where her son isn’t a bundle of remains and is still healthy and breathing in her arms. The readers see her as a mother who cares more for her son than herself, as all she ever thinks about is the immense love towards her son and what they did together before the unfortunate casualty took place. The internal conflict is highlighted throughout the poem specifically when the poor and deprived mother wasn’t ready to let go of the joyous memories that she had once shared with her beloved son but deep down she knows that she has to let him go. The quote “bathed him and rubbed him down with bare palms” shows the profound love she has for him as she is remembering the most intimate times they had together. This quote is one of the many examples of the happy memories she had shared with him. This is the most affectionate as the bare contact of a mothers hands on her son’s warm skin is deeply intimate and loving, an unforgettable feeling to a sensitive mother. It is as if she was remembering this specific memory, as she knows if she finally believes in the truth, that she would have to cleanse him from all the blood and dirt on his cold, pale skin from his unmoving corpse. This quote shows the readers how close the relationship between the mother and son really was and justifies the reason as to why it is so challenging for the mother to give in to the horrible truth. The time has finally come where she realizes that her son’s death is unavoidable. The quote “like putting flowers on a tiny grave” suggests that she has come to terms with the fact that the death of the most important thing in her life is imminent. The word ‘tiny’ suggests that it’s very unnatural for such a young child to have passed this soon; this is an example of how conflict causes the death of innocent lives. A young death is the hardest to deal with. The mother feels guilty as she thinks that the blood is in her hands; she felt that his death could have preventable with the use of her own protection, however in reality, she is as helpless as the fragile young boy. Poems ‘War Photography’, and ‘Mother in a Refugee Camp’ both address similar topics such as loneliness. It is evident in ‘In his darkroom he is finally alone’, this suggests that he was submerged into havoc previously and is now finally by himself. This type of loneliness is pleasant as he isn’t vulnerable from the exposure like he was during the time of his dreadful job. However, at the end of the poem the poet quotes “he earns a living and they do not care” this suggests that nobody cares for his wellbeing as no one can relate to the horrific situations he experienced. In ‘Mother in a Refugee Camp’ the poet quoted “like putting flowers on a tiny grave” this could also link with loneliness as she soon loses her son and will have no one by her side apart from herself.  In “Prayer Before Birth”, MacNeice conveys the feeling of fear through the thoughts of an unborn child, still in the womb of a pregnant mother. An unborn child expresses its fear of what the world might do to those who are still innocent and untouched by the errors of this perplexed world. It does this by calling out to God as to plea for what he fears is avoided. A prayer-like tone is used as most prayers start with ‘O hear me’ when calling out to God, which suggests that he desperately wants God to listen to his depart wishes an. It’s also an imperative showing that the baby is afraid and demands to be heard. The fact that ‘hear me’ was repeated twice in the poem implies that the poet is trying to emphasise to his readers how intense the babies need to be protected from the harsh reality of the world.The unborn child is asking the divinity to provide it with life’s metaphorical necessities for his existence as he describes the importance of surrounding an individual around nature, as it is vital for a human’s life. “With water to dandle me, grass to grow for me, trees to talk to me”, this quote suggests that humans are incomplete without nature as they both are made by God, pure and natural, until we develop and grow. This contrasts with the child’s views of people as it emphasizes how it wants to stay one with nature, however, it is impossible as nature is now more human than human’s. These beings are the main cause for its destruction, causing it to be conflict; therefore it’ll be too late for the child to have a chance to experience the sensations of being surrounded with the beauty of nature considering that it’s now slowly vanishing every day.  Lastly, the poet describes the feeling of panic, as the unborn child knows what it will be brought into. The closed, confined womb acts as a safety barrier between it and the dark and miserable world, would one day disappear and it would someday have to face the cruel and unfair world as it is. The quote “old men lecture me, bureaucrats hector me, mountain frown at me” advocates some of the reasons as to why the child is afraid to come out. The ‘old men’ suggests that since they are elders, they have a right to control the young ones to do their biddings.  ‘Bureaucrats’ are conveyed to be irritating and heartless as they are trying to force others into baring obedience. “Mountains frowning” is an astonishing and unexpected idea as the shape of it resembles a frown as it was never considered in a way where it is negative towards the world, it possibly suggest that the mountains aren’t pleased with the world that they have been placed into as the earth has many horrible impacts towards itself and everything inside it.   The poems ‘Right Word’ and ‘Prayer Before Birth’ both acknowledge the idea of judgment as one judge’s itself before it committed all the misdeeds it is apologizing for now. However in the ‘Right Word’ the poet makes quick judgments about the intruder who is hidden in the dark.  “Lurking in the shadows, is a terrorist”, this quote is a clear representation of how the poet makes the trespasser look as if he was a criminal. The word ‘terrorist’ is particularly used when describing a person who has killed upon thousands of innocent people yet the poet throws the word easily as if it was meaningless. In conclusion, conflict is shown to be an unpleasant rollercoaster of painful experiences throughout these poems. Some show the victim’s perspective whilst others show the witnesses’. Both ‘War Photographer’ and ‘Mother in a Refugee Camp’ acknowledge the idea of war and incredible loss. One of the many common types of conflict, such as internal conflict, is displayed in some of the poems however it is mostly shown in ‘Mother in a Refugee Camp’ and ‘The Right Word’. 

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