In ÒThe History TeacherÓ by Billy Collins and ÒA Barred OwlÓ by > Richard Wilbur, scenes which Adults explain situations to children are > described. In both of the poems, the adults describe either past > historical events or contemporary happenings in such a way as to > prevent children from seeing the full extent of harsh reality. Both > Poems either state explicitly or infer that the adultsÕ goal is to > protect the children from the entire truth. Yet, in the first poem, > by Wilbur, the adults seek only to calm a child by assuring her fears > Ð which are somewhat plausible Ð are not plausible. However, in the > second poem, by Collins, the adult actively lies to the children about > events that would no longer affect them and of which they have no > apparent fear. The adult in this second poem is much less effective > in accomplishing his goal, and the poet uses literary devices to show > this; whereas in the first poem the adults accomplish exactly what > they set out to, and the poet also uses literary devices to > demonstrate this. Thus, while both poems describe a similar > situation, the two poets use different literary devices to accentuate > the difference in adultsÕ approaches to and the outcomes of the two > situations.
> In ÒA Barred Owl,Ó Wilbur sets up a situation in which the child > has a reason to be fearful. Through diction such as ÒboomÓ Òwarping > night airÓ and ÒdarkenedÓ Wilbur evokes the image of a scene that > would be terrifying for any Òsmall child.Ó He thus convinces the > reader that it is necessary for the adults to do something to quell > the childÕs fear. By using the first-person voice, Wilbur directly > involves the reader in the situation, eliciting feelings of sympathy > for the child and obligation to do something. Thus, the reader is > able to directly empathize with the adults in the poem because he is > one of them. Wilbur also uses rhyme scheme throughout the poemÕs > entirety, causing it to resemble a...
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