Lament by Clarke
Re-read the poem “Lament” by Gillian Clarke and explore the way in which the author resorts to words and phrases to make this poem effective and memorable. “Lament” by Gillian Clarke is a memorable and effective poem due to the poet’s resorting to specific words and phrases. The poet uses lots of metaphors to achieve her objective. For example, “her pulsing burden” is a metaphor referring to the turtle’s need of a place to discharge her eggs and how she sees pregnancy as a disturbance and as something that needs to be got rid off. Nest of sickness” stands for the sand which has been polluted by human beings, where she is meant to lay her eggs. “Funeral silk”, first line second stanza, is used by the poet to transmit the idea of the oil stuck in the cormorant’s feathers and as they are blackened by oil they are said to be its funeral silk or feathers of death because that will eventually kill the bird. “Shadow on the sea” conveys the oil that darkens the sea. All these are used by Clarke to make us open our eyes and realize how we are polluting earth and how we are affecting lots of creatures, including human beings.
Animals are not the only ones showed as victims in the poem. The fusilier, Ahmed and the farmer’s sons are too victims of war, which causes death and pollution. “For Ahmed at the closed border” probably refers to a Palestine man who seems to be trapped because of war and can’t leave or be free. “The boy fusilier who joined for the company” could mean that the boy joined the army in order to be among people because maybe he lost his family at war, or maybe it means that he doesn’t leave because of the other soldiers who have to stick it there. The farmer’s son, in it for the music” could imply that they joined to play music with the army’s band but that when war started they were sent to fight all the same. “For the ocean’s lap with its mortal stain” is a contrast. “Ocean’s lap” has a positive connotation because sea holds life, sustains and supports boats, and provides jobs and supplies to humanity. On the other hand, “stain” has a negative connotation because it is related to contamination produced by factory wastes, oil spills and plains and boats crushed at war.
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Visual, tactile and sound images are another method the poet adopts in order to transmit us a message. The main objective of this device is to make things more vivid for us, given that most of those things are ones that we don’t know. By making these things more veritable and authentic for us, she is able to reach our heart and make us feel something that will make us want to change our attitudes and solve the problems we are causing in nature.
Visual images appear all along the poem, but tactile are only “uniform of fire” and “burnt earth”, and sound “missile thunder. ” All along the seven stanzas, the poet repeats the word “for” at the beginning of most of the lines. This emphasis slows down the rhythm of the poem. As the poem looks like a litany, meaning a long account of repeated or unpleasant things, we can understand that Clarke wants us to want to stop reading and change our behavior.
The fact that the predicate in the lines is missing implies that things are not finished and that we can put an end to it with a reaction or a change, or that the imperative sentences tell us to open our eyes and realize what is going on. We can conclude that the poet, Gillian Clarke, chooses certain words and phrases to make us see and understand things we have never experienced and therefore make us feel something about it and decide to change and react against these problems affecting the earth and its inhabitants.