Nostalgia by Carol Anne Duffy Essay Sample

  • Pages: 3
  • Word count: 779
  • Rewriting Possibility: 99% (excellent)
  • Category: disease

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Swiss Mercenaries came down from the mountains to fight on behalf of European rulers in Distant Lands. Many of these mercenaries suffered from nostalgia. * Nostalgia was believed to be a medical disease. * Symptoms included anorexia, bouts of weeping and even suicide attempts. * For years, people believed only the Swiss were prone to it. * In 1688, Hofer suggested it was “a cerebral disease of essentially demonic cause” *

essentially demonic cause” * In 1732, Scheuchzer said it was due to “a sharp differential in atmospheric pressure causing excessive body pressurization, which in turn drove blood from the heart to the brain, thereby producing the observed affliction of sentiment” * Military physicians believed it was caused by the constant sound of cowbells which damaged brain cells and the eardrum.

* The first two stanzas are nine lines each, and the last one is ten. This shows their life has changed, in the last stanza, the mercenaries are trying to grasp hold of the past, and although they are close with their memories, they cannot make it the same. * Enjambment is used to confuse the meaning of certain lines in the poem (e.g. second stanza, line four). Enjambment also shows how the mercenaries constantly think about their past. * Caesura breaks up the lines, which shows the mercenaries are being cut off from their homes. * Long sentences show life seems to go on and on without any excitement or difference. Language:

* The memories are described very vividly, and although they are contrasting, they are all said in one sentence. “in the dwindling light of the plains, a particular place – where maybe you met a girl, or searched for a yellow ball in the long grass, found it just as your mother called you in” * The memories are not concrete, but they have very concrete adjectives to go with them, this shows how clearly they see it. * Meeting a girl is normally one of the key memories someone would have, but it is skimmed over very quickly. Contrasting this, two lines are spent describing searching for a ball in the yellow grass when the man was a boy. This shows the mercenaries want to be home, and have lost a sense of what parts of home are truly important. They just want part of their old life back. “a sweet pain in the heart”

* the mercenaries are being hurt (both literally and metaphorically) by their experiences, but are being paid, which means the pain has a good side – it is sweet pain * It hurts the men to think about the past but it the memories that keep them going, the memories themselves are sweet but it hurts the mercenaries to think of them. Imagery:

“The sad pipes”
* Personification makes the pipes reflect the sombre mood of the mercenaries, the pipes that are playing could be sad as the villagers on the mountains wait for the mercenaries to come home, the mercenaries would also feel sad as they remembered the pipes of home. * a transferred epithet is used, the pipes are described as sad, when it is actually the person imaging the pipes that is sad “leaving the high, fine air/to go down, down.”

* We get a concrete representation of the spirits of the mercenaries dropping as they descend the mountain. Repetition, Rhythm and Rhyme:
* Repetition of “down” and “wrong” in the first stanza shows us straight away that things are changing for the worse. Due to the repetition of “wrong” so many times, we can infer that it is not only the things listed that are wrong, but everything about the move from the mountains. * In the second stanza, the repetition of the “h” sounds like sighing, which backs up the stanza, as it is looking back at the past. * Repetition of the word “same” in the last stanza shows that when “everything changed”, nothing had actually changed apart from the mercenary himself. * Internal rhyme of “hear” and “air” links to the “music of home” that is mentioned in the next line * Comma’s divide sentences into chunks of similar lengths, providing a rhythm that sounds like the marching of soldiers. Tone:

* The tone in stanza one is one of cascading sorrow, sentiment, and nostalgia. It starts the poem with a lot of pathos. * The tone of stanza two is one of resignation, where the mercenaries are aware that their life is made worthwhile by reminiscing. * The tone of stanza three is one of disappointment and nihilism.

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