Comparing Blessing and War Photographer

Blessing is a poem written by Imtiaz Dharker in 1989 from a typical Mumbai slum scene. War Photographer is written by Carol Anne Duffy in 1985, inspired by her photographer friend who recently returned from a war-torn foreign country. The two poems use techniques that are sometimes similar and sometimes widely different. Overall, the images were portrayed in order to support themes in the poems, lack of water and war in Blessing and War Photographer respectively.

In Blessing and War Photographer, the writers have presented powerful images with poems of different structure. In Blessing, the writer uses free verse to imitate the water. For example, “A congregation: every man woman / Child for streets around”, and “Their highlights polished to perfection, / flashing light”. There are long lines followed by short lines and vice versa, powerfully presenting the free-flowing nature of water, underscoring its preciousness to people in the poem. On the other hand, in War Photographer, we have fixed and rigid sestets with a strict and recurrent rhyme scheme, for example, “alone”, “rows”, “glows”, “he”, “mass”, “grass”, to represent the order orchestrated by the protagonist of the poem, showing him as a holy figure bringing salvation to human kinds in order to highlight the brutality of war through his perspective. Therefore, the two writers differ on the way they structure the poem when presenting powerful images to portray the important elements in their poems.

Photo by Atharva Tulsi on Unsplash

The two writers also use different ways to describe an urgent situation. In War Photographer, the writer uses juxtaposition when demonstrating the way the photographer asked for permission: “he sought approval without words”. Permission has to be “sought” by communication in some sort of language, while the photographer sought permission “without words”. This could be that the photographer could not stand the brutality of the war anymore, and strongly wanted to show it to the rest of the world and urgently wished to provide a way to ease the effect of wars. The urge here is shown thoroughly through the use of juxtaposition. Contrarily, the sense of urgency is presented through enjambment in Blessing. By abruptly ending the last line, the readers have to hurry to the next line to make sense of the sentence, increasing their reading speed. The sentences flow smoothly from one to the other without stopping, possibly imitating how the villagers in the poem rush to get water urgently relentlessly. Duffy uses the juxtaposition to show the urgency in War Photographer, suggesting the responsibility of the photographer. This is in contrast to Dharker, who demonstrates the imperativeness of the villagers to get water, implying the preciousness of water. Thus, the two writers use disparate ways to describe an urgent situation.

On the other hand, the two writers also present powerful images in some similar ways. The same perspective is used in both Blessing and War Photographer. Blessing narrates the whole story through with a third-person point of view: “every man woman child for streets around”. This allows readers to see the reactions of lots of characters, thus suggests their harsh situation in the slums. War Photographer also describes things from a third-person point of view: “he remembers the cries of this man’s wife”. This explains what the War Photographer had seen in the places torn by war. By using this perspective, image is powerfully presented, readers are given a full understanding of the settings, the characters, and the situations, thus having a better comprehension of the photos the photographer took.

Photo by Duncan Kidd on Unsplash

There is also similarities between how the two writers use metaphors. Metaphors in both poems reflect the main themes by representing them with other things with the same characteristics. For instance, in Blessing, the water drops are described as “silver crashes to the ground”. Silver here connotes the valuableness of water, thus signifies people hardship in the place described in the poem. Similarly, in War Photographer, the man in the photographer’s image is said to be “a half-formed ghost”. The word “ghost” comprehensively expresses the languishment and paleness of the man in the war-torn country, hence indicates the irreversible and severe impacts of war. Thence, both the two writers use metaphors to reflect the themes of their poems.

As a conclusion, writers of Blessing and War Photographer used similar and different techniques in portraying images. While Blessing describes in a free a flowing way and is smartly using punctuation, War Photographer is fixed, rigid and contains a lot of language techniques. These contribute to the themes of lack of water and war in both poems.

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