Poetry Essay Hannah Lynn
The poem ‘In the Snackbar’ by Edwin Morgan is a poem which uses lots of techniques. It is through these techniques that we see many aspects of the blind man’s personality. Which explores the theme of endurance.
At the very beginning of the poem we see the old man having trouble standing up. ‘An old man is trying to get to his feet.’ The word trying suggests that it is a struggle to stand up that even the simplest thing for this man is a difficulty. It then goes on to say, ‘ slowly he levers himself up, his hands have no power.’ Once again it is a small thing made into a big thing; he also needs his hands to stand up. Also the word power suggests that he is old and frail that he doesn’t have the energy in him. This gains sympathy from the reader and helps to understand what it must be like for this man every day.
In the next quote it is obvious that the poet is trying to provoke the reader to pity this man. ‘Long, blind, hunch-back born, half paralysed,.’ This is an obvious example of what he has to endure, he doesn’t just have sight problems he has lots of others as well. It makes us feel sorry for him and at this point we can empathise with him and try to understand what it would feel like.
The writer uses many techniques to show how much the man has to endure; one of these specifically is repetition. ‘Inch by inch, we drift towards the stairs.’ The effect of the repetition is magnificent we can imagine it. It shows how that even though he’s walking slowly it is progress. This line also contrasts the rest of the poem because it is light, it makes it appear to be cheerful and happy, when the poem is all about how this man suffers.
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Another technique that the poet uses, to show how much he endures, is exaggeration. ‘A few yards of floor are like a landscape to be negotiated.’ This makes it seem like it is even more complicated than you would first think. We see that even a tiny distance is a struggle and it seems to be a big open space. From this it arouses pity from the reader and we sympathise with him, for a moment we are in his shoes.
Just after this, the poet affectively projects the feelings and the state of mind that the man has. ‘I concentrate my life to his: crunch of split sugar, slidy puddle from the night’s umbrellas, table edges, people’s feet and the slow dangerous inches to the stair.’ This emphasises his hardship once again and allows us to sympathise and empathise with him, which is something we cannot normally relate to.
Morgan also uses repetition to convey a sense of embarrassment, ‘ and slowly we go down. And slowly we go down.’ The repetition is here for dramatic effect and communicates the sense that it takes a long time to go down the stairs, it isn’t just slowly it is even slower than that. The fact that it is split into two short sentences makes it stand out and makes it appear even longer. Just like how long it would take the man to walk down the stairs.
We see that when the old man eventually gets down the stairs, the poet tries to make us evoke pity on him. ‘An old man’s apology for living,’ this is once again a case of embarrassment. The old man is embarrassed to be alive, the poet helps to show this by using the word ‘apology’ which makes it seem like he is sorry to everyone and that he is just a nuisance. Just like the write had hoped this induces sympathy from the reader. It seems like the old man could almost be suicidal, he doesn’t want to be alive. It is ironic that the man is sorry for other people who have to see him and help him when in fact we are the ones who pity him and his life.
Again when the man has finished in the toilet he has to ask to do the simplest task, ‘ he asks doubtfully, “Can I –wash my hands?” Once again this arouses compassion from the reader. He doesn’t know if he’ll be allowed to wash his hands. It is almost as if he is reverting back to a child, because like a child he has to ask to do the simplest of things. The word ‘doubtfully’ implies that the blind man is suspicious of the poet because he doesn’t know him. He doesn’t know if the poet is a good man or after something else. This also makes the reader pity him because of his blindness he has no faith in human nature and that is a sad thing.
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Once again we see the use of repetition being used to show how much the old man endures. This time as he makes his way up the stairs, ‘ across that endless, yet not endless waste of floor.’ This helps us get a real insight into his day to day life. It is a contradiction because it says one thing and then the opposite; this is for dramatic effect to show the extent of his disabilities.
At almost the end of the poem the poet leaves us with a sentence that I think sums up all that he has to endure. ‘Under his mountainous coat, the hands like wet leaves stuck to the half-white stick?’ ‘Like wet leaves’ is a simile, this sounds depressing. His life is depressing and strange, people find him frightening. The word ‘cling’ makes it appear that his hands are holding on as tightly as they can but they don’t really have much power. This provokes pity and sympathy once again we see how much he has to put up with in our lives.
I feel that Edwin Morgan definitely increased my awareness of what blind people have to go through. The poet explores this topic by using techniques like, repetition, exaggeration and simile’s. These help me to empathise with him and imagine what it must be like living like that day to day. Morgan certainly conveys how much he endures, and the extent of what he has to go through in life.
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