To the Mercy Killers Analysis

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Dudley Randall’s poem To the Mercy Killers tackles one of the most controversial issues in America today: euthanasia. No other issue has divided and caused much division and divergence in thought and views in this county as mercy killing and has through the years along with abortion become the defining topic of politics in America. Mercy killing and in fact the very question of what defines life has becoming a moral dilemma and a divisive factor in our society. Dudley Randall’s To the Mercy Killers is a moving appeal against the practice of mercy killing and the tormenting affect it has on its victims.

The poem was written in 1973 by the African-American poet and librarian Dudley Randall and has since become one of the most effective poetical pieces against mercy killing. The opening of the poem is characterized by a curious ironic choice of words such as “if ever mercy move you murder me/I pray you, kindly killers, let me live.”(1-2) These ironic choices of words are then repeated throughout the poem to an agonizing affect. The speaker in the poem begs for a chance to be allowed to live pleading that, “even though I turn a traitor to myself as beg to die, do not accomplice me.” (9-10) This line skillfully captures the utter hopelessness and misery faced by victims of mercy killings and the carefully chosen word “traitor,” adds to the overall theme of despondency of the poem. Any-one who has come across a person in a vegetative state and the terrible tribulations they go through knows the horrific look on their faces and the “beg to die,” facade they wear, a façade because that might not be how they really feel like deep down in their hearts and hence the statement “do not accomplice me,” shows what Dudley Randall views as the true sentiment of the victim.

Widely publicized stories in the popular media have recently brought the issue of vegetative state and mercy killing to the forefronts of our national discussions. The excruciating ordeals that Terri...
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