Prayer Before Birth, Louis MacNeice Flashcards Preview

Mrs Latham IGCSE Revision Poetry > Prayer Before Birth, Louis MacNeice > Flashcards

Flashcards in Prayer Before Birth, Louis MacNeice Deck (13)
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1
Q

Meaning

A

Form of prayer from unborn child: to be protected from threats and horrors of the world

2
Q

What did Louis MacNeice’s poetry focus on?

A

Poetry focuses on importance of human kindness in face of tyrannical regimes

3
Q

Context

A
  • Written at end of WW2
  • After period of prolonged bombing in London
    • Encapsulates fear nation felt for future
4
Q

What is the significance of “Prayer” in the title?

A
  • Foetus needs to pray even inside womb
    • Foetus = innocence entity
    • Fact foetus worried = world is terrifying and brutal
  • Religious diction of poem
    • Ironic ∵ no god or moral force in world for child to pray to
5
Q

Imagery #1

A

“bloodsucking bat or the rat or the stoat or the club-footed ghoul”

  1. Childlike immature images but horrfic, sinsiter, nightmarish = animals and supernatural reference
    • Juxtaposes postive, joyful imagery with birth → criticises society
  2. ‘bloodsucking’ = connotations: vampirism & gothic horror → traditional forms of horror
    • But revealed later on = least of child’s concerns → mankind more horrific than fiction & myth
    • Plosive and alliterative ‘b’s reinforce horror
  3. Repetition: “or that”
    • Increases anxiety, endless horrors on Earth
  4. Reference to devil
6
Q

Imagery #2

A

“freeze my / humanity, would dragoon me into a lethal automaton”

  1. (Semantic field) of inhumanity
    1. Unborn child = salvage some humanity in hostile world
  2. Reference to people becoming soldiers = exploitation
    1. Loss of free will = source of terror
  3. “lethal automaton”
    1. Robot kills others
    2. Robot destroys the baby whom becomes it
  4. Fears being turned into machine or having his individuality lost
7
Q

Structure #1

A

Free verse (no regular structure + no rhyme scheme)

  1. Chaos & disorder in world around us
    1. Ragged edges of stanza = brutality of universe
      1. Jagged and violent looking
  2. Looks like heartbeat when turned on its side
    1. Grows strong OR more panicked = then stop
    2. Or could represent growth of baby
8
Q

Structure #2

A

6th Stanza

  1. Deterioration of verse form
    1. Stanzas become more randomly structured
      1. = Breakdown of modern society
      2. = OR increasing pace of terror = leads to horror (in final line)
  2. Repeats 1st stanza
    1. Shows no one is listening
    2. More anxious than opening
9
Q

Tone

A

Religious: “hear me.” “console me.” “forgive me” “Let not”

  1. “O hear me”
    1. Intense anxiety of speaker
    2. Instruction
      1. Implication some force will hear (e.g. god, mankind)
      2. Fact no response/answer = god, humanity doesn’t care or god may not exist
  2. “forgive me” = religious, ominous, pessimistic
    1. All humans do cruel, sinful things ∴ sins inevitable in future ∵ virtue of being human
    2. Mankind = inescapably cruel
  3. “Let not”
    1. Echo Biblical grammar of Old Testament
    2. Seriousness of child’s appeal
10
Q

Name 3 possible poem comparisons

A
  1. “Half Past Two”
  2. “Hide and Seek”
  3. “Poem at Thirty Nine”
11
Q

“Half Past Two” Comparison

A
  • Provides alternative child’s point of view
  • Speaker neglected by grownups
12
Q

“Hide and Seek” Comparison

A
  • Explores cruelty & lack of compassion towards children
  • Cruelty from other children
13
Q

“Poem at Thirty Nine” Comparison

A
  1. Contrasting style of personal address to reader about individual becoming person they can proud of ( in this poem: baby would be ashamed to be human)