War Photographer Commentary Carol Ann Duffy’s poem ‘War Photographer’ published in 1985, explores the two contrasting worlds in which a war photographer lives in: the warzones of Belfast, Beirut and Phnom Penh and his calm home town in Rural England. This poem was based on Duffy’s numerous conservations with Don McCullin, an internationally known British photojournalist who specialised in war photography and urban poverty also known as the ‘the underside of society’. By sharing his experiences, Duffy evokes both disturbing and conflicting feelings for the reader. Today I intend to discuss how she achieves this through the use of literary techniques like imagery, symbolism and metaphors, the reoccurring themes of death and the effects of war, the tone and the structure of the poem. Duffy uses techniques like metaphors, symbolism and imagery. These techniques are very effective as they create a clear vision of what the speaker is both doing and reflecting on in the poem. For example in stanza one, “with spools of suffering set out in ordered rows” creates an image of the graves or coffins of the dead soldiers. However the ‘spools of suffering’ also acts as a metaphor demonstrating the effects of war. This is because ‘spools’ often relates to happy memories but in this poem Duffy uses it to convey sad and distressing memories. In the next line Duffy uses symbolism, “only light is red”, with the ‘red’ symbolising blood and the use of ‘only’ suggesting that he is deeply scared by what he has witnessed. Through these techniques, Duffy has clearly portrayed the photographer’s memories, disturbing the reader as well as emphasising the themes of death and the effects of warfare. The main themes in this poem are death and the effects of war as they appear in every stanza. Duffy uses these themes to make the reader question who is really inhumane; the photographer or the audience. She uses...
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