Prayer Before Birth

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Prayer Before Birth By: Louis MacNeice Context Written during the Second World War, more specifically in 1944. During 1944 London was being bombed to a large extent and as such it was a time of fear for the future. Content An unborn child expresses its fear of what the world can do to the innocent. It does this through the form of a prayer (possibly to God) in which it pleas to be preserved from the dangers that future on earth might hold, including its own corruption (4th stanza). Tone The tone of this poem can be interpreted in a number of different ways. The child seems fearful of the future and as such urgent and impassioned in its dialect. The poem also seems to have an apocalyptic or nightmarish feel…show more content…
· Each stanza also follows this repeated clause with an imperative. This illustrates the desperation of the child’s plea. Stanza 1 Seems to illustrate the child’s imagination. Alliteration of b in ‘blood-sucking bat’ and the classic horror image of ‘club-footed ghoul’. Even children, unborn children are being corrupted by humans in their imagination. Stanza 2 Is all about what harm humans can do. The alliteration ‘drugs dope’ and the internal repetition of ‘tall walls wall’ and ‘black racks rack’ create a feeling of oppression and claustrophobia. Illustrates the hopeless task of trying to escape this danger and corruption. Stanza 3 Contains the child’s optimistic view of what life on earth might hold. The sibilance of ‘sky to sing to me’ creates a soft hissing sound which is much gentler that the harsh alliteration of ‘drugs dope’ in the previous stanza. Personification throughout this stanza gives nature the properties that are usually used to describe humans, and this contrasts with the child’s views of humans, emphasizing how the child wants to stay one with nature and how nature is now more human than humans themselves (anything human is corrupted). Stanza 4 The child expresses its fear of becoming corrupted like everyone else on earth. The use of the 3rd person pronoun ‘they’ is slightly disturbing. Gives a sense of the child being controlled by a faceless authority (manipulative nature of humans on earth).
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