Structure: The poem changes to italic/font during the penultimate stanzas and a previous line to indicate the change of speaker, from the narrator/translator to the daughter it appears as if the daughter is passing on the story to her own children and the narrator is explaining this process. The final couplet hits home the themes of the poem quite dramatically in a very sombre tone but does not offer opinion, challenging the reader to come to their own decision. The consistent structure uses quite regular syllable patterns drifting up and down in length, this gives the poem a tone of nostalgia, but also the rhythm of the waves which can represent a helplessness, that things will happen, whatever you do, he will still ‘die’ in one way or another. The use of asides and calm rural language juxtaposes the setting of war, giving the poem a much more personal scope on a major event. B Y THE END OF THIS YOU SHOULD KNOW : H IGHER M ARKS L OWER M ARKS -The poem contrasts the narrator and daughters voices in order to build a more personal and human tone to the poem as well as the pilots story. -The poem explores the futility of trying to avoid ones own origins and roots, be it natural or man made. -The use of rural fishing imagery contrasts the war based context and links the pilot to the fish inevitably caught and subject to fate. -The poem changes between the voice of the narrator ad the daughter of the pilot. -The poem shows the pilots hope to avoid death, only to be ‘dead’ to his family. -The poem uses a range of fishing and sea like language to show the conflict between nature and man, and how he tries to fight this. Context: The poem is set around the events of a kamikaze pilot flying to war and then turning back before it was too late. Kamikaze pilots were expected to use up all their weapons and then suicide by flying into their targets as a final act of destruction. It was considered a great honour in Japan to die for your country. The pilot in this poem returns home and is rejected by his family forever after, his own wife refusing to speak to him. The poem is written both from a narrator and the daughter of the pilot. The narrator explains the events, almost translating the story, while the speaker gives a first person account of how they excluded her father. The poet questions at the end which death would have been better, to die as a kamikaze pilot young or to grow old with a family who shut you out. Kamikaze pilot before mission.
T HEMES : N ATURE A number of the poems explore the power of nature and often define it as being against man. Sometimes it is shown as more powerful, whereas in others it is limited or more in our own minds. Man versus nature is generally an easy way to show conflict with lots of personification and language devices to explore. It is also worth considering where the poet believes the power finally lies.
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