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There are many similarities and differences in the two poems “Give” and “Clown Punk”. In this essay I am going to be looking at the tone of the two poems, the reactions of people in the poems and the language used to convey characters to us. Firstly, one of the few similarities between the two poems is the language used to convey to us the situation of the two characters. In both poems the characters are outcasts, living on the margins of society. In the Clown Punk the man is described as the ‘town clown’, which shows the stereotypical, humourous character that people see him as. Similarly to this, in Give the beggar describes himself as ‘making a scene’ possibly referring to the way in which people see beggars and people who are different: a problem. Both of these poems show the problems in society with stereotyping, the situations people find themselves in and people reactions to them. Next, I am going to look at some of the many differences between the two poems. Firstly, the poems have very contrasting tones and voices. The language used to give these across differs to have different effects on the reader. In the Clown Punk the language used is very depressing and drab. Words with references to weather and water such as ‘washing’, ‘windscreen’, ‘windscreen wipers’ and ‘rain’ convey to the reader a dark and dismal picture of the character. These words hint at signs of depression in the character. The word phrase ‘dyed brain’ may also be a reference to the differences in the characters thinking and the possible mental problems he may have. In contrast to this openness of problems and depression, the character in the poem Give hides his emotions and true colours under a web of romanticism, sarcasm and irony. With this tone he can hide his desperation and some of the problems he is facing. He attempts to build up a relationship with the reader by using words such as ‘dear’ and the phrase ‘of all the doorways in the world’, a play on words taken from the romantic film, Casablanca. These can also be seem as sarcastic as he is talking about homelessness as something beautiful and romantic, which is far from the hard truth. These are all large contrasts with the bluntness and clarity of the Clown Punk. Lastly, I am going to look at the reactions of the reader to the character and also of people in the poem to the character. In the Clown Punk an emphasis is put onto the ‘kids in the backseat’. We are told they are scared and horrified at the picture of the character. However this differs from our own reaction. The slightly humourous words such as ‘daft’, ‘mush’ and ‘shonky’ make the character seem harmless rather than scary. He may even bring about some compassion that people are laughed at in this way when they may need help rather than fear. As a contrast to this, our first impression of the character in Give is one of annoyance. Annoyance at his sarcastic tone; annoyed at the lack of gratitude he seems to display when he says, ‘you give me tea. That’s big of you’. However the last line of the poem hits home. ‘I’m on my knees. I beg of you.’ This phrase shows the extent and nature of his desperation. We then feel sympathy towards the character and
our whole perspective on his situation changes. This is a major difference between the lack of help the character in Clown Punk seems to want and the anxiety shown by the character in Give. In conclusion I have found that the two poems both show the problems in today’s society and peoples reactions to others. On the other hand, some major differences include the juxtaposition of tones and voices the poems put across – one dull and depressed, one fiery and sarcastic. Lastly, people’s first impressions and reactions to the characters themselves are very different. These are some of the comparisons in language and character of the poems “Give” and “Clown Punk” by Simon Armitage.