Twisted Cookbook

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Choose a poem that deals with a serious subject or issue or presents a pessimistic view of the world. Briefly outline the ideas in the poem and in more detail examine the effective techniques used by the poet to put across his ideas or views.

A poem that through the use of many effective poetic techniques, produces a bleak view of mankind’s future is, “Five Ways To Kill A Man” by Edwin Brock. Throughout, the poet uses word choice, striking imagery and sentence structure to effectively create a picture in our minds of how to complete that particular method of killing a man. The poem presents us with five “cumbersome” ways to kill a man and guides us through each way in a way which is like a “twisted cookbook” and leaves us with a dark reflection on mankind’s future.

In the poem, Brock presents us with the story of death, and instructions for killing throughout the ages, starting with the crucifixion of Jesus, moving on to medieval jousting, civil war battles, World War one, and World War two. At the end of the poem he presents us with the easy way to kill a man that is perhaps not so cumbersome. Using the five stanzas, the poet shows us that the biggest threat to the world is the world itself.

At the start of the poem, the poet surprises us by providing a list of ingredients needed to kill a man using a cross.

“You can make him carry a plank of wood to the top of a hill and nail him to it.”

Here, we clearly see that the references are particular to the death of a man on a cross; who we recognise as Jesus. Brock makes it obvious that he wants us to know exactly how to give a man this kind of death:

“To do this properly you need a crowd of people wearing sandals, a cock that crows, a cloak to dissect, a sponge, some vinegar and one man to hammer the nails home.”

He specifies here to the reader how to do this “properly”, as if he wants us to succeed. The phrase “one man to hammer the nails home” presents us with the sound of the nails being...
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