War Photographer by Carol Ann Duffy
In his darkroom he is finally alone
with spools of suffering set out in ordered rows.
The only light is red and softly glows,
as though this were a church and he
a priest preparing to intone a Mass.
Belfast. Beirut. Phnom Penh. All flesh is grass.
He has a job to do. Solutions slop in trays
beneath his hands which did not tremble then
though seem to now. Rural England.
to ordinary pain which simple weather can dispel,
to fields which don't explode beneath the feet
of running children in a nightmare heat.
Something is happening. A stranger's features
faintly start to twist before his eyes,
a half-formed ghost. He remembers the cries
of this man's wife, how he sought approval
without words to do what someone must
and how the blood stained into foreign dust.
A hundred agonies in black-and-white
From which his editor will pick out five or six
for Sunday's supplement. The reader's eyeballs prick
with tears between the bath and pre-lunch beers.
From the aeroplane he stares impassively where
he earns his living and they do not care.
War Photographer is an anti- war poem. The poet Carol Ann Duffy was friendly with a photographer Don McCullin, who published photos of war. The present poem is based on the conversation that she had with this photographer. She seems to empathize with the photographer and not the readers. The poem basically is about the feelings of a photographer as he develops the photographs of war. In the opening line itself a depressing tone is set with the help of ‘dark room.’ The word dark gives us a negative connotation and this idea is further strengthened when he says, ‘he is finally alone,’ as if he longed to be alone and wanted to be left to himself for all that he witnessed at the warfront. His feelings are metaphorically brought out when the poet tends to compare his sufferings to that of ‘spools.’ The suffering is immense which is brought out by the use of...
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