Brooklyn Cop

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Brooklyn Cop, by Norman MacCaig is a poem about an American policeman and the daily dangers he faces. The cop appears to be a savage yet we are later made aware of his underlying vulnerability. New York’s reputation of violence and crime leads to our awareness of the cop’s fear of not returning home to his wife. ... We are first made aware of the cop’s intimidating appearance in the first line, of the first stanza when MacCaig uses the simile "built like gorilla." This gives us a very negative and animalistic idea of the man, an enforcer, and almost a thug. This is reinforced with the metaphor, “hieroglyphs in his face” instead of eyes. We build a picture of someone who is very strong, brutish and somewhat sinister. MacCaig includes the element of humour by saying, “but less timid,” this is also ironic, as gorillas aren’t renowned for their timidity to begin with. We are further made aware of the cop’s threatening appearance when the cop is described as being, “steak coloured.” This suggests that the cop constantly looks enraged, due to the comparison to raw steak, which is bright red. A very important metaphor is created in the first stanza, which establishes the main theme of the poem: “he walks the sidewalk and the thin tissue over violence...” This leads us to believe that there is an underlying threat of violence in the cop’s persona, which implies that the cop is an unpredictable and perilous character. We now know why this man has to be so strong: his world is one where, as the metaphor highlights, the thin veneer of peace and civilisation is very fragile and could easily be broken. MacCaig retains our interest by creating contrast in the cop’s persona in the first stanza. The stanza concludes with Norman MacCaig giving a more defenceless view of the cop, by expressing the intimate relationship he shares with his wife. He says, “See you, babe” as well as “Hiya honey.” We can now almost think of him as a gentle giant, less of a brute. The word “honey” is a...
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