The Early Purges by Seamus Heaney

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The Early Purges by Seamus Heaney.

What the poem is about:

'The Early Purges' by Seamus Heaney focuses on the traumas of childhood, and how impressionable we are when we are young. The poem is sad: it is about a child who sees kittens drowning, along with many other animals being killed in various methods on a farm. At the time the child is terrified, but by the end of the poem the fully-grown child is doing all the deeds he was so scared of when he was young. The poem is about how we lose innocence.

Theme:

The main theme of the poem is all about how we change when we grow up. There is direct contrast between the first and last lines: 'I was six when I first saw kittens drown'
And the last line;
'On well run farms pests have to be kept down'.

Poetic techniques used:

Similie- The kittens are compared to “wet gloves”/ comparing the dead kittens bodies to being “crisp as summer dung.”

Onomatopoeia- “sickening tug” of the hens’ necks.

Alliteration- “soft paws scraping” “...soon soused” “slung on the snout.”

War poem, “Base details” by Siedfried Sassoon.

Background to the poem:

Siegfried Sassoon was a soldier who fought in World War I. He witnessed the horrendous slaughter of thousands of young soliders on the battlefield. Much of this killing was totally senseless and was a result of poor planning and incorrect strategies employed by the majors. This angered the poet so much that he was driven to write this angry poem. He imagines himself being a major and sarcastically suggests that he would be: "Fierce, bald and short of breath,"

And he would send young soldiers, or "glum heroes," to their deaths, while remaining far from the battlefield himself. "Guzzling and gulping in the best hotels."
He imagines himself reading a book containing the names of the dead soldiers and pretending to express some sympathy. "Poor young chap," When the war is over the major would die, not heroically on the battlefield, but home in bed.

Theme:

The main theme of this poem is the deep anger left by the poet at the behaviour of the majors and generals during World War I.

Language and style:
This poem is a satire, in which Sassoon bitterly attacks the majors and those in charge of military matters who send thousands of young soldiers to their deaths in the name of patriotism. Sassoon uses many features of style in constructing this poem. There is a regular rhyming scheme used with line 1 rhyming with line 3, line 2 with line 4, etc. Each line is made of ten syllables each and the last two lines rhyme. (This is a rhyming couplet.) It is a very descriptive poem with Sassoon making use of effecting adjectives. For example, the Majors are described as "scarlet," while their faces are said to be "Puffy and petulant." Some of the verbs he chooses are also interesting. He writes about the majors " Guzzling and gulping." Here onomatopoeia is used to add to the effectiveness of the image. Onomatopoeia is also found on the last line of the poem when we are told that the Majors "toddle" home. Excellent examples of alliteration are found in lines 4+5. "Puffy, petulant face," and

"Guzzling and gulping," which is also an example of assonance (repetition of vowel sounds).

Dulce Et Decorum Est by Siegfried Owen.

The poem describes a gas attack on a trench in World War One. The poem reveals to the reader the terrible consequences of a gas attack: 'the blood / Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs'. It also presents the unglamorous reality of trench life, with the soldiers described as being 'like old beggars'.

The Latin used at the end of the poem means 'It is sweet and honourable to die for your country', a concept Owen is strongly denying.

Structure

There is not a clearly defined structure to the poem, although Owen does make use of rhyme, mostly on alternate line endings.

The poem opens with a description of trench life and the conditions faced...
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