Pratt and Melville Shark Poems Essay Sample

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In this essay I am going to show how to authors differently represent the same animal. I am going to do this by looking at a number of different poetic devices and comparing the use of these poetic devices to describe the animals in a different way. This question is asking me to show how the two authors both explain the sharks’ looks and personality in a different light to the other author. Both poems are about a shark, they both describe the sharks looks and personality they also reveal how the shark makes the writer feel when the writer watches the shark. My argument is to show how both authors write about the animals differently but use similar poetic devices.

Both poets use imagery to describe the sharks, they use metaphors and similes, “Like a piece of sheet iron” This simile describes the shark as being cold, hard and unbreakable like metal by doing this the shark is being portrayed negatively. Melville uses metaphors to convey the shark as a negative animal; “in white triple tiers of glittering gates of heaven” this shark is also being described as a tough animal this metaphor shows how sharp the sharks teeth are and how many teeth he has, therefore showing his strength. This can also be seen that his teeth are so sharp when an animal goes through them he will be going to heaven as the sharks teeth are so sharp that the animal will die as soon as he touches the sharks teeth this also shows the strength of the sharks teeth as well as the strength of the shark as an animal. These two lines of the poem, although completely different both portray the strength of the shark. However there are also many more metaphors that produce the same image of the sharks strength; “Part vulture, part wolf, / part neither-for his blood was cold” Pratt shows the sharks’ strength through this as wolves and vultures are strong defensive animals, so by saying that the shark is this it shows the shark as strong, also by describing the sharks blood as cold it describes the shark as a cold creature, therefore a strong independent creature.

Both poets differently but equally effectively describe the way the shark moves, “stirred not a bubble / as it moved” this shows how elegantly the shark moves. This also shows how sneaky the shark can be; as he makes no large motion to warn other fish that he is coming by doing so the shark gets more power. Melville describes the shark as the, “pale sot of the Maldive sea” This shows the shark moves ungracefully, like a drunkard, he is obvious when he is coming as he cannot swim in a straight line this can also be seen as strength as when a drunk man gets very drunk ha can get violent as a result of the drink, this could also be referring to the shark being drunk, but not on alcohol, on fish this again shows power as he would have to be very powerful to get so many fish. The poets describe the sharks’ movements completely different however they are both incredibly effective. Pratt makes the shark seem in control of himself but Melville makes the shark seem unorganised and not in control of his movements. Although they are differently shown the authors both show the sharks power and strength through the way the sharks move.

In, “The Shark” the author writes that the shark “snapped at a flat fish / that was dead and floating” this shows power as the shark knows he has a lot of power and wants everything and everyone to know he has power so he shows how fierce he can be by snapping at the fish. However Melville shows the sharks’ power in a completely different way, Melville writes “from his charnel of maw” this shows the shark has lots of power as a charnel of maw is a place with lots of carcasses and bones this indicates the shark has power as the shark would have to have lots of power to get so many fish for there to be carcasses and bones from these animals. The way Melville and Pratt show the sharks power is completely different but still very successful in that both poems show power but in a different way.

Both Melville and Pratt use caesuras to describe their animals, Pratt describes the pilot fish as “the sleek little pilot fish, azure and slim” this use of caesura here adds a lot of effect as it emphasises the looks of the pilot fish, the pilot fish is slim therefore able to hide, then power follows as a result of being hidden. The use off a comma here acts as a dramatic pause, it creates a pause for the reader to think about the phrase, following the readers thought the second half of the sentence explains how the pilot fish looks and why Pratt describes the shark, he describes the shark as being, “Tubular, tapered, smoke blue” again the use of a caesura here adds emphasis to the looks of the shark. The use of commas here calls attention to the looks of the shark as it creates a sort of list, a list of all the sharks looks, the list then adds effect because some of the sharks looks as the list states many words with similar meanings. Melville and Pratt both successfully use caesura to explain their animals’ looks and the caesura works brilliantly with the punctuation used.

I feel that both Melville and Pratt successfully describe their animals although they describe them differently they both use similar poetic devices to grab the readers attention and therefore describe the animals brilliantly. Pratt describes the shark throughout the poem where as Melville gives the poem a difference by writing bout the shark and the pilot fish. This works very well as although there are more topics being described by Melville than there are by Pratt there are not too many topics being described. So the reader can easily understand both poems and follow the poems.

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