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War Photographer
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 glo...
Carol Ann Duffy
• On May 1st 2009, Carol Ann Duffy became the UK's twentieth Poet Laureate.
She is one of Britain's best k...
War Photographer
The photos we see in Sunday supplements, adorning posters or
headlines, are taken by real people. These p...
Structure
• 4 stanzas
• 6 lines per stanza
• Regular rhyme scheme – ABBCDD, etc.
WHY?
• Imposes order in the chaos of war
...
Figurative Meaning and Ideas
• Contrast of war zone and daily life in England
• Carelessness and safety of common people
•...
In his darkroom he is finally alone
with spools of suffering set out in ordered rows.
The only light is red and softly glo...
He has a job to do. Solutions slop in trays
beneath his hands which did not tremble then
though seem to now. Rural England...
Something is happening. A stranger’s features
faintly start to twist before his eyes,
a half-formed ghost. He remembers th...
A hundred agonies in black-and-white
from which his editor will pick out five or six
for Sunday’s supplement. The reader’s...
“The dilemma for the
photographer... is the
question of what to do - do
I take the photograph? Or
do I do something to hel...
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War photographer

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War Photographer - analysis

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War photographer

  1. 1. War Photographer Carol Ann Duffy
  2. 2. 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. Home again 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 at where he earns his living and they do not care. Carol Ann Duffy Mass*: A religious service Sunday’s supplement*: A regular additional section placed in a Sunday newspaper
  3. 3. Carol Ann Duffy • On May 1st 2009, Carol Ann Duffy became the UK's twentieth Poet Laureate. She is one of Britain's best known and most admired poets. Her poems appeal to those who wouldn't usually read poetry and they appear on the national curriculum. • War Photographer comes from Duffy’s friendship with Don McCullin and Philip Jones Griffiths, two well-respected stills photographers who specialised in war photography. • Duffy is fascinated by what makes someone do such a job and how they feel about being in situations where a choice often has to be made between recording horrific events, and helping.
  4. 4. War Photographer The photos we see in Sunday supplements, adorning posters or headlines, are taken by real people. These people place their lives in danger, to help us visualise the horrors of war elsewhere: wars not on our doorstep. These people are War Photographers.
  5. 5. Structure • 4 stanzas • 6 lines per stanza • Regular rhyme scheme – ABBCDD, etc. WHY? • Imposes order in the chaos of war • Like the photographer – order with the photos, making sense of the chaos • Third person pronouns o (He, his, they) o Detachment from job o Distancing of Rural England from war zones
  6. 6. Figurative Meaning and Ideas • Contrast of war zone and daily life in England • Carelessness and safety of common people • Disasters of war • Indifference of common people towards war • Only care on a superficial level • Strong images are considered inappropriate • War is censored by editors of audience • Difficulty of portraying a war without feeling guilty • Photographers dilemma when taking pictures • Traumatic images from war
  7. 7. 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 atone a Mass. Belfast. Beirut. Phnom Penh. All flesh is grass. Sibilance – what is the effect? What are the connotations of the colours? 1. regularity/order – reflects structure 2. Suggestion of graves/bodies Litany of horror; caesura adds to impact by making us pause and reflect Isaiah 40:6 – shortness of life Simile – reverence and devotion to the pictures Contrast to the harsh light associated with war – bombs, gun fire, etc.
  8. 8. He has a job to do. Solutions slop in trays beneath his hands which did not tremble then though seem to now. Rural England. Home again to ordinary pain which simple weather can dispel, to fields which don’t explode beneath the feet of running children in nightmare heat. Ambiguity – chemicals/solutions to war Implies carelessness Tremble now due to the emotion felt about these images – emotion that is not replicated by his society True meaning to the poem – contrast. Negative impression of British people. Our biggest concerns can be forgotten simply by having nice weather. Cannot compare to pain of war Contrast: barefoot children running in grass for fun/those running from war – end of innocence and, possibly, life. Suggests idyllic life More sibilance
  9. 9. 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. Ambiguous: Literal – developing the photo. Figurative – person in pain Metaphor – 1. image on photo, 2. death Photographer’s dilemma – has a job to do. Literal: Blood stains from those killed Figurative: stains on his memory from witnessing the atrocities Imperative – sees his job as a duty that has to be performed
  10. 10. 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 at where He earns his living and they do not care. 1. Photo 2. Good/evil 3. Truth/lies Chooses photos to suit the article; don’t convey the full horror of war Trivialises; we are only moved momentarily Us – as a society we are more focussed on our own lives and would prefer not to know about events on the other side of the world that would cause us to feel sadness Suggests they are used for entertainment Contrast to war zone En route to another assignment; poem is cyclical; unceasing wars
  11. 11. “The dilemma for the photographer... is the question of what to do - do I take the photograph? Or do I do something to help?”

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