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LAMENT. By: Gillian Clarke. About The Poet. Gillian Clarke is Welsh Gillian Clarke has one daughter and two sons. She lives in a smallholding in Ceredigion. She is a poet, a playwright, translator, broadcaster, teacher and she is also the president of a writer’s center.

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lament

LAMENT

By: Gillian Clarke

about the poet
About The Poet

Gillian Clarke is Welsh

Gillian Clarke has one daughter and two sons.

She lives in a smallholding in Ceredigion.

She is a poet, a playwright, translator, broadcaster, teacher and she is also the president of a writer’s center.

She wrote this poem as she was distressed about the Gulf War between Iraq and Kuwait in 1991.

She has other famous poems such as, The Stone hare and Cold Knap Lake.

slide3

For the green turtle with her pulsing burden, in search of the breeding-ground. For her eggs laid in their nest of sickness.

For the cormorant in his funeral silk, the veil of iridescence on the sand, the shadow on the sea.

For the ocean's lap with its mortal stain. For Ahmed at the closed border. For the soldier in his uniform of fire.

For the gunsmith and the armourer, the boy fusilier who joined for the company, the farmer's sons, in it for the music.

For the hook-beaked turtles, the dugong and the dolphin, the whale struck dumb by the missile's thunder.

For the tern, the gull and the restless wader, the long migrations and the slow dying, the veiled sun and the stink of anger.

For the burnt earth and the sun put out, the scalded ocean and the blazing well. For vengeance, and the ashes of language.

themes
Themes

- Expression of grief, sorrow and regret over the effects that the destruction of war has on nature. “For the burnt earth and the sun put out”, “For vengeance, and the ashes of language”

- Mankind’s selfish actions and how it has ruined or scarred nature. “The whale struck dumb by the missile’s thunder”, “The veiled sun and the stink of anger”

- The struggle of the animals as they attempt to survive. “In search of the breeding-ground”, “the long migrations and the slow dying”

personification
Personification

- Gillian Clarke makes the animal characters in her poem seem human because of her references to them as “his” or “her”; “his funeral silk”, “her pulsing burden”.

- The cormorant is depicted as something quite human as it is described as being dressed in its own funeral clothing.

- The ocean itself is also suggested as an immortal, or a greater being in comparison to man or mankind’s permanent ruination; “ocean’s lap with its mortal stain”.

repetition
Repetition

The poet repeats the word “for” at the beginning of most of her stanzas or sentences, signifying a form of reminder or remembrance for all the creatures and lives that were lost in the unnecessary chaos of war.

metaphor
Metaphor
  • The phrase “the soldier in his uniform of fire” brings to mind an image of the suffering of those who participate first-hand in the war.
  • “The boy fusilier who joined for the company” refers to a boy sacrificing his young life to join in the fighting just because his friends are a part of it as well.
  • “The farmer’s sons, in it for the music” is referring to the men who join the war simply to become a part of something bigger. They are only in it for the adventures of war.
conflict
Conflict

- The poet includes several examples of confliction through the phrases “the sun put out” and “the scalded ocean”. She has used a lot of visual exaggeration through these phrases as these events are almost impossible.

- Perhaps she is suggesting that the violence and aggression of war could actually cause the death of an entire planet.

links to other poems
Links to other poems

This poem can be linked to the poem Report To Wordsworth by Boey Kim Cheng. This poem also depicts the destruction of nature and the negative effects of mankind’s actions to the world.

“She has been laid waste. Smothered by the smog, the flowers are mute, and the birds are few in a sky slowing like a dying clock”

“He is entombed in the waste we dump”

“While insatiate man moves in for the kill”

“O see the wound widening in the sky”