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From your reading of poetry, show how two or three of the poems may have given you a new different sense of poetry or of human experience, and comment on how these effects were achieved in the poetry. Refer to poems of at least two different poets. Poets often describe a scene for us to absorb or understand. Occasionally they feed us ideas to make us wonder, question and think. I have chosen the poems “Hitler’s first photograph” and “The Captain of the1964 Top of the Form team” because they show us how time changes situations.

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The poem “The Captain of the 1964 Top of the Form team” is written in the first person and is therefore is a more personal poem; the persona is a man yearning to capture the glories of his lost youth. It has a very nostalgic tone that makes it more intense and meaningful. It makes us think that as we get older things do change, and not always for the better: “I want it back. The captain. The one with all the answers”.

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The persona in this poem was a very successful teenager: he was intelligent, confident, had an intense social life, he “lived in a kind of fizzing hope”, he had great expectations for the future. However, when he enters into adulthood nothing is as good, he is not as successful as he hoped to be: “I say to my boss”, he has a boss; “I say to my stale wife”, his sexual life wasn’t as he thought it would be by looking at his teenage years where he was confident and successful with girls. The persona has a frustrated adult life where he is disappointed in what he has turned to be, his life as an adult is not connected to his life as an adolescent.

This poem shows me how, even if you are very popular and successful in your adolescent years, it can all turn around against you and have a very unhappy adult life where you spend a lot of your time looking back at the past with rose-tinted glasses and thinking he could have done so much better with his life. It is a lesson on how we can’t take for granted anything as our future is what we build throughout the years.

The persona in this poem was a very intelligent teenager: “And the photograph. I look so brainy you’d think I’d just had a bath” and had a great future predicted for him: “I ran to the Spinney in my prize shoes, up Churchill Way, up Nelson Drive”, the names of the streets show expectation for adulthood because they have been very successful people; however he either made a mistake or there was a change in his life (the poem doesn’t say what happened) that destroyed his future and made him feel unhappy and frustrated. To show how it all changed Duffy writes a very sinister sentence that evocates the last image of childhood: “I smiled as wide as a child who went missing on the way home from school”. His journey of life has been interrupted by a tragedy and is now gone on a different direction, one which he doesn’t enjoy and which he never wanted.

The poet uses simple and familiar language to make us all related to this poem, as we can very easily have a similar experience to the one the persona has had. Carol Ann Duffy uses very sensual related memories because it is a great aid to nostalgia: “Gargling with Vimto”, “the clever smell of my satchel”; she also uses colloquial language to show that the persona as an adult still hasn’t forgotten his background, when he was a well liked adolescent: “no snags”, “my lips numb as a two-hour snog”; in addition Duffy recalls extracts of songs or pop singers, who became very popular in the sixties: “Do Wah Diddy Diddy, Baby Love, Oh Pretty Woman”, “the Beatles were everywhere else”, ” I pulled my hair forward with a steel comb that I blew like Mick”, “The first cord of A Hard Day’s Night loud in my head”

The most important aspect that the persona recalls is all the knowledge that he had in his young years, this shows us how as times change we usually end up being strangers of the world that we live in because we no longer understand it, the poet expresses this by comparing all his knowledge in the first three stanzas (adolescence period): “The Nile rises in April”, “I knew the capitals, the Kings and Queens, the dates”, “the white sleeve of my shirt saluted again and again. Sir!…Correct.”, “Dominus domine dominum” “The blazer. The badge. The tie.” ; and his ignorance in the fourth and last stanza (adulthood): “Name the Prime Minister of Rhodesia”, “How many florins in a pound?”.

All the questions he asks his children are not valid anymore because neither Rhodesia nor florins exist anymore, however he is not capable of understanding this and he instead calls them “thick kids”. He is stuck in the past, and this is something that can happen to all of us and condition the rest of our life. This poem has showed me that we can’t keep thinking about what we used to be, but we have to think of the day to day, Carpe Diem.

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Kylie Garcia

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