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Gillian Clarkes Poem Lament English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1407 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The first stanza of Lament shows the civilians being protected by the soldiers, “For the green turtle with her pulsing burden, in search of the breeding-ground. For her eggs laid in their nest of sickness” (Songs of Ourselves 150). She represents the civilians, “eggs”, as weak and unable to defend themselves, thus needing protection from the soldiers. Clarke does not show feminism in her first stanza. On the other hand, she establishes the necessity of soldiers, as protection from harm. This is done to increase the level of feminist writing in her later stanzas. In the beginning of her poem Lament, she establishes the necessity of soldiers in our daily lives and their usefulness. However, she soon discredits them by pinning the fault of nature’s destruction on them due to fighting.

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Her second stanza on the other hand, displays feminism through the lines, “For the cormorant in his funeral silk, the veil of iridescence on the sand, the shadow on the sea” (Songs of Ourselves 150), represents the outcome of having soldiers and wars. This is feminist because she wants the world to be at peace, with no wars or fighting. The line “For the cormorant in his funeral silk” (Songs of Ourselves 150), shows death and funeral burials, all suggesting negative thoughts to persuade the audience to support feminism. This line in particular, “veil of iridescence”, is strongly feminist as Clarke is attempting to persuade her audience to help and support feminism by usage of the word “iridescence”, to show the spilt blood caused on the account of violence and unrest. The strong suggestion of death present in the stanza helps to reinforce the feminism style of writing throughout the poem.

“The shadow on the sea”, show the spreading stain of oil from bombed oil wells (Clarke). This is feminist because she focuses only on the destruction of nature due to the bombed oil wells. In addition to that, the burning oil seemed to put the sun out, and poisoned the land and the sea (Clarke), also conveys a sense of feminism as Gillian Clarke concentrates on the structures created by nature instead; sun, land and sea. Another reason it is feminist is because it conveys towards the audience a sense of fear and hostility towards violent and destructive acts. This discourages men and children from doing said actions since they are projected as fighting machines whose only purpose is to fight. It is feminist because women do not see men as barbarians but rather as cultured, learned and sophisticated gentlemen. It is feminist because women see men not superior to them but rather as intellectual equals, soul mates.

Clarke’s third stanza, “For the ocean’s lap with its mortal stain. For Ahmed at the closed border. For the soldier in his uniform of fire” (Songs of Ourselves 150), Clarke simulates the battlefield in which the soldiers fight and their deaths, a result of not doing anything to prevent this terrible disaster, the battlefield, “ocean’s lap”, is stained with the blood of the soldiers, “mortal stain”. In this stanza, Clarke is hinting at feminism by describing the outcome of a battle. She converts the audience views on wars and fighting automatically, without any suspicion, immediately making us turn our backs from violence and destruction, to never again precede to the battlefield willingly to do battle. “The soldier in his uniform of fire” was a horrific photograph of a soldier burnt when his tank was bombed (Clarke). This displays feminism as Clarke only informs us about the tragedies of war to steer us away from it.

In the following stanza, “For the gunsmith and the armourer, the boy fusilier who joined for the company, the farmer’s sons, in it for the music” (Songs of Ourselves 150), Clarke shows the type of people who are persuaded to join to fight. She displays feminism as she focuses on the young children; boy fusilier, farmer’s sons, to inform us about the type of soldiers who are laying down their lives to fight. Feminism is present here as Clarke does not think that young children should be allowed to fight and the only reason the child joined was because he was lonely. This came from hearing radio interviews with their mothers (Clarke). This demonstrates feminism as Clarke does not mention the fathers in her poem; only the mothers. She gives distinction to the women by mentioning the mothers and does not recognize the men as a more important figure; rather as an equal thus not representing them more in the poem than women.

This stanza of the “For the hook-beaked turtles, the dugong and the dolphin, the whale struck dumb by missile’s thunder” (Songs of Ourselves 150), is based mainly on nature’s destruction and how the animals we know and love are slowly being wiped out by “missile’s thunder”, and the like. All the animals described are in danger of becoming extinct. This is feminist because Clarke cares about the environment and cares for all of Earth’s inhabitants, which does not exclude the animals. She describes the method of death as missile’s thunder, which links back to the second and third stanzas of man destroying the Earth. This is feminist as Clarke cares about all the lives on the Earth and does not approve of mindless murder of any lives, human or animal. “Missile’s thunder”, is used as a metaphor to display the wrath of violence and the outcome of it, death. “Struck dumb” is used to symbolise death. This illustrates feminism as pity is shown for these animals who suffer as a result of men’s foolishness.

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The following lines, “For the tern, the gull and the restless wader, the long migrations and the slow dying, the veiled sun and the stink of anger” (Songs of Ourselves 150), displays the disastrous result of having many wars. “Long migrations”, and “slow dying”, illustrates the near future if men continue to fight. This demonstrates feminism as she blames men for the deaths of animals and not women, believing that we should not act recklessly or foolishly but rather that everyone should all be kind and gentle towards all living things. She uses the words “tern”, “gull”, and “wader”, to help reinforce her points of view. Since these are types of seabirds, she conveys the sense of slow death as a result of fighting. This displays feminism as she does not approve of such acts of violence and that we should all live in a peaceful world where there will be no wars, no unrest and no violence.

In the final stanza of her poem Lament, “For the burnt earth and the sun put out, the scalded ocean and the blazing well. For vengeance, and the ashes of language” (Songs of Ourselves 150), Gillian Clarke reaches her crescendo and ends with a note of anger. This conveys a sense of feminism due to the fact that men have killed all of our beloved animals that we used to live beside us. She uses “scalded ocean”, and “blazing well”, to emphasize and reinforce her points of view across the audience. This is strongly feminist as she uses scalded and blazing to symbolise the scene of fighting and war instead. The ashes of language are the death of truth during war (Clarke). This displays feminist views as her choice of words speak only of the feeling of loss and despair instead of speaking about the feeling of victory and happiness.

Overall, Gillian Clarke’s poem Lament has strong feminist views after the first stanza. However, in the first stanza, she does not display any feminist views at all, instead stating that men are important in our lives as they offer protection and safety from the dangers of the world. Although she explains that men are needed in her first stanza, she then goes on to say that men are responsible for all the deaths, humans and animals. She actually changes her views and shows that men are actually the cause of unrest and despair. After the first stanza, all her loyalty towards men are diminished, instead she blames them for the deaths of all living things and says that they are the cause of violence and also are the cause of nature’s destruction.


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