Analysis Of Francis Devine

’s “A Terrible Beauty” Essay, Research Paper

Analysis of Francis Devine?s ?A Terrible Beauty?

When first confronted with the poem, ?A Terrible Beauty?, the reader would presumable not get any understanding out of the title. After reading the poem the reader can get the basic idea and create a clear picture of the setting and the tone from the speaker. The subject was a black man getting beaten by a group of Irish somewhere in Ireland. The reader does not recognize the theme of the poem right away. After recognizing the last two lines: ? Is this the terrible beauty / we have reared?, (51-51) as an allusion, the reader makes a reference back to the poem by William Butler Yeats. In the poem by Yeats, ?Easter 1916?, the reader can interpret some irony and discover the theme. The theme is a question: how could Irishmen beat a black man in such an appalling racist way after encountering racism themselves? The discussion will include five aspects of poetic discourse: imagery, tone of the poem/speaker, diction, allusions, and irony.

The poem is divided into eight stanzas and fifty-two lines; there is no rhythm or rhyme connection them. The poem begins with the line: ?They were beating him?(1, 5, 9, 13), and explains he was a black man, but as the reader continues to the end of the second stanza some repetition of that line is notices. The repetition is there to create an emphasis on the racism these Irishmen showed towards this black man. In stanzas three and four it is clarified that the speaker is opposed to what the group has done to the man, with the lines, ?Effing nigger lover? (18) and ?As I helped him stand?, (21) The poem continues and explains that the black man did not want help. As the reader starts with stanza seven and goes on, the speaker is just thinking, and trying to make an understanding of what he has just witnessed. The speaker then explains that he and many other Irish were once victims of some racism. Finally in the last stanza, a question: ?Is this the terrible beauty / we have reared? (51-52), referring to Ireland as being beautiful, but also a terrible place, as depicted in the poem with the beating.

Imagery is very frequently used throughout this poem. The imagery is there to create a mood, and to help the reader get a distinct picture of things that are taking place in the poem. The reader can get a clear picture of what the speaker is observing in stanza two. When he says, ?jackals at some other beast?s kill? (8); the reader gets the idea of how low this group of young men appeared. The line, ?A passive, stuffing-less rag doll? (10), creates a picture of how weak and defenseless this black man is. The imagery in stanzas four and five helps the reader to picture how the black man appeared when the speaker helped him up, with these lines:

his teeth trembling, oozing blood (25)

as if he had been guzzling cherries (26)

his eyebrows slit like Dick Tiger (29)

In stanza eight the reader can picture the signs reading, ?No Wogs, No Dogs, No Irish? (43); this helps in interpreting and forming many conclusions about meanings in the poem. When picturing the signs with racial comments, the reader can also picture and understand how the speaker is feeling about the situation before him.

The first five stanzas of the poem are presenting the reader with something important that is taking place; the speaker?s tone is somewhat sympathetic showing compassion towards the beaten black man as he harshly describes what the Irishmen had done to him. Entering the seventh stanza a reading through to the end the reader can notice that the tone has changed. In the last three stanzas it is as if the speaker is thinking about what he has just witnessed and is analyzing the situation. The tone in this section of the poem manifests confusion; the speaker is confused because of the irony of the situation. The speaker ends the poem with a question: ?Is this the terrible beauty we have reared??(51-52), showing that he is still wondering and confused.

The choice of words used to make up this poem, the diction, is very basic. Most of the poem?s diction presented a lot of imagery throughout the poem, which has already been discussed. In stanza number seven the words: ?flotsam or jetsam? (36) are very noticeable; these words symbolize the way this black man felt in Ireland. Flotsam or jetsam means that this black man felt like driftwood in the middle of the ocean, no one to turn to or help him, in need of a friend. Also in stanza number seven the reader notices the line: ?in need of the sun, the smell of red earth?; this line suggests to the reader that it is probably nighttime and in a city where there is no natural land. The smell of the area is probably very bad. The reader can make many conclusions about the poem by reading through its diction.

The poem is really meant to suggest some irony of what has happened, it uses many allusions to help the reader connect with this irony. Other allusions are there to present some imagery. The one allusion which presented imagery was: ?his eyebrows slit like Dick Tiger / somewhere in the fourteenth round.? (29-30). In the line: ?that I would bring him to James?s?, another allusion is discovered. St. James?s is probably the most well known hospital in Dublin, Ireland. An allusion which helped to create irony of the situation was the one in which he refers back to Brixton when the speaker was looking for ?digs?. The speaker then refers to a man by the name of Nelson; he was a leader in England who apparently had to decide whether or not he could, ?give back his freedom to a city / that could savagely beat / a man on the street / because he was black? (45-48). Finally the last two lines: ?Is this the terrible beauty / we have reared?? (51-52) are an allusion which refer to a poem by William Butler Yeats, ?Easter 1916?. This allusion is necessary to help the reader discover the theme of the poem. This shows how allusions play an important part in the development of a poem.

The main theme of this poem shows and ironic situation. The irony of this poem can be suggested after reading what was done to the black man by these Irish, then finding out what had been done to Irish some time before. The speaker explains with an allusion to Brixton, in which signs were up which read: ?NO, Wogs, No Dogs, No Irish? (43). These signs show that England once presented the Irish with racism. When referring to ?Easter 1916?, by William Butler Yeats, which talks of Ireland gaining its independence from England, the reader can see the ordeal which Ireland suffered. Now in Ireland free of persecution, the Irish do not understand that they are doing the evil to this black man that they have once experienced; this is the irony of ?A Terrible Beauty?.

During the analysis of ?A Terrible Beauty?, all five aspects of poetic discourse discussed have had some connection with each other. From the imagery of the poem the reader was able to visualize the scene; from visualizing, the reader can observe how the speaker?s tone is presented. The diction comes from the tone of the speaker; the speaker?s tone influences what he says. The diction of the poem contains its allusions, which in this case helped in discovering the irony. All the aspects of poetic discourse came together in creating an amazing poem. After reading this poem many times over, and working hard on taking it apart and analyzing it, the reader can understand that it is of great significance. The value of the poem would come form its irony, which states a meaningful point. Francis Devine was very observant when writing this poem of the truth that Ireland is a terrible beauty. ?A Terrible Beauty? by Francis Devine is of Great value because it will make the reader observant, and capable of recognizing similar situations in today?s lifetime dealing with racism, and the people who choose to light its fame.


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