The poem “Children” written by Nancy Keesing describes and contrasts two different lives of children from two different places in the world. By symbolising innocence with children, we are positioned to feel sympathetic for those innocent victims who are being tortured severely at war. Keesing has used numerous poetic techniques to help capture the difference between the two lives.
The poem, which is broken up into two parts, consists of four stanzas, to contrast the difference between two types of children.The poem is written in free verse and in first person point-of-view. The first stanza pictures a peaceful and calm lifestyle, of the first group of children, such as Australia, as suggested in the first line “surfing”. However, the last stanza, pictures the harsh, cruel and tormenting atmosphere where the innocent is being tortured and blown up into bits and pieces. The section between these stanzas consists of two very short, one-lined stanzas. This helps to emphasise the content of the lines and as a result, the contrasting situation being described.The contrast of the two different groups children has been established and emphasised by the well laid out structure and enhanced by the detailed figurative language.
Keesing has used imagery from the very start of the poem, in the title “Children”, which symbolises innocence and innocent victims at war. This brings us a picture of agony and suffering of those innocent ones in the war. The first stanza captures surfing and the ocean and how the people who are surfing are enjoying themselves and having fun.The line “whirling, gasping, tossed and disjointed” describes and pictures the dramatic experience of the surfers. The middles section, the two short stanzas, uses “peaceful sky” and “another sky” to emphasise the difference between a peaceful country that has a beautiful, blue sky and a country involved in war with a black, scary sky that has been covered by black smoke from the explosions. The last stanza pictures the children in a war torn country suffering and being hurt. The simile, which describes the children “Torn disjointed, like sticks broken” captures the harm done to the children.
This is a very important line in the poem, as it describes in more detail on what is happening, the snapping the children is as easy as if we were snapping a wooden stick or in half. The diction throughout the poem has also been very effective as it helps to emphasise the contrast between the children’s lives. Keesing has used dramatic and violent word listing in both the first and last stanzas to give the reader a better picture of the object, which captures the children’s experience during the situation, either surfing or war.Repetition of words and lines has been used extensively in this poem.
This is because it emphasises the difference between the children’s lives, but still retain some similarities. The adjectives used in the last stanza “jagged, scorching limbs” had been used to stress the violence and harm done to the children, and because of this, it positions the reader to feel even more sympathetic for the innocent. Together with imagery and word choice, sound devices are another technique used to help this poem achieve its maximum effectiveness.The broken, disjointed rhythm and the harsh sounds help establish chaos and the violence of the waves and the sadness of warfare. For example, the word “thump”, onomatopoeia, is used to capture the sounds of the harsh waves. The sibilance used in the first line “long-summer scorched, my surfing children” emphasises on the Australian citizens enjoying themselves and having fun surfing in summer.
Throughout the poem, the reader is positioned to feel sympathetic for the children, which represents the innocent victims at war being harmed.As the result of that the reader is aware of the harshness, cruelness and sadness of the war on the innocent. Keesing has structured the poem cleverly and effectively to emphasise on the contrast between the two lives. The figurative language, diction and sound devices are also incorporated carefully to help picturing the different situations. In the poem “Children” it leaves the reader with a strong impression of the tragedy of war, its senselessness and the need of preventing it happening ever again by all means.