Compare and contrast “Lizzie, Six” by Duffy with “Quetzals only come once” by Pugh.
In the poem “Lizzie, Six” by Carol Ann Duffy, a young girl is being questioned by an abusive adult. Every time the child answers, the adult gives a negative or threatening response, in an almost cruelly sarcastic manner. Similarly, the poem “Quetzals only come once” by Sheenagh Pugh describes a young child speaking to an adult. The adult, whom we are told is the child’s mother, is creating shapes through a kaleidoscope for her child. Both poems explore the theme of innocence.
In “Lizzie, Six” the adult questions Lizzie at the beginning of each new verse, to which she responds with very childlike, innocent responses. Her responses are written in italics. The adult then claims they will give her (whatever she has said), followed by a threat or cruel remark. For example, “I’ll give you fields, bend over that chair”. The threats seem to become worse as the poem continues. Duffy cleverly displays child abuse to the audience in the form of first person, making it seem more of a reality by placing the reader in the position of the abuser. The poem has a continuous rhythm, with an underlying aggressive tone. The continuous rhythm is sculpted by the structure of the poem; each stanza has the same layout. The first line is the question, the second is Lizzie’s response, the third is repetition, the fourth is the threat. The fourth line of each stanza rhymes. The repetitive structure of the poem could suggest the repetitive nature of child abuse; it is a continuous cycle that only gets worse. Lizzie’s responses are simple and innocent, as most children’s would be. She is “watching the moon,” going to “play in the fields,” “thinking of love” , “hiding deep in the wood,” and “afraid of the dark.” Many of these responses may have deeper meanings, for example, the moon symbolises dreams, ambition and purity, things that will be taken away from Lizzie. She wants to play in the...
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