Does Poetry Criticize Society

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Poetry is a form of “Literary work in which the expression of feelings and ideas is given intensity” ( Poetry's ability to express feelings particularly intensely renders it suitable for expressing strong emotions and ideas, such as criticism. It can be said, therefore, that poetry is suitable to be used as a vehicle to criticize society. The ways in which poetry is used to criticize society, though, are manifold. The poems “sharing the lift” by Kavevangua Kahengua, An Irish Airman Foresees his Death by W.B. Yeats and The Unknown Citizen by W.H. Auden all share certain messages which criticize society. The poems all focus on criticizing the relationship between society and individuals. They do this by pointing out…show more content…
Society does this through conflict, segregation and generalization. Primarily, poetry criticizes society by unveiling how society treats individuals. Treating a group of individuals as a whole societal unit causes individuals to be segregated, forced into conflict and generalized. In the poem “sharing the lift” an example of society-based segregation eventuates due to its form. The two stanzas have nearly identical closing lines, such as “Beckoning” (verses 9 and 16). These parallels between the stanzas reflect how the narrators are similar and wish to share a lift yet they do not. This shows segregation has been imposed on their mentalities by society. Similarly, In An Irish Airman Foresees his Death the narrators participation in war is a result of his, “lonely impulse of delight,” (verse 11) but the conflict and war situation which he finds himself in compromises whole societies. This is implied by the poems setting. A pilot’s death in 1918 influenced the poet to set the poem in the Second World War which now allows us to ascertain the extent of the…show more content…
In the poems it is evident that conflict, segregation and generalization are detrimental to the mental well being of individuals. A sense of disappointment at the imposed segregation is shown in the poem “sharing the lift”. The eyes of the prospective companion being described as: “dazzling blue// Like the heavenly sky,” (verses 2 and 3) creates an atmosphere of hopeful tension as the connotations of the description are extraordinarily positive because of the diction used, such as “heavenly”. The loss of this hopeful tension in the last line of stanzas one and two, where the prospective companions, “had vanished,” (verses 10 and 17), conveys the sadness and disappointment felt by the narrators at the imposed segregation. This can also be observed in An Irish Airman Foresees His Death where the effect of the societal conflict around the narrator reveals itself in the narrator’s resignation from life itself. To the narrator, “The years to come seemed waste of breath, // A waste of breath the years behind” (verses 14 and 15). The poem uses chiasmus in these two lines, in which the verb and the subject alternate their place in the phrase. This reflects the inner balance at which the narrator is, despite his death wish, signifying the way in which societies conflicts have cause him to value escape from war higher than his own life. In The Unknown Citizen the

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