'to Whom It May Concern' Critical Essay

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Choose a poem that has drawn your attention to an issue of moral, social or political significance. Briefly outline the nature of the poet’s concern and show how the poet’s techniques have enhanced your own appreciation of its message. The poem ‘To Whom It May Concern’, written by Adrian Mitchell, is designed mainly to protest against three things, war, the government’s lies and disrespect of the people who fought in the Vietnam War and the cowardice of the general public. These protests are enhanced for the reader through poetic techniques such as a lengthening refrain and the use of imagery. In the fifth verse of the poem Mitchell refers to war as a “crime” this clearly shows that he is strongly against war and he further protests against war with imagery used throughout the poem. For example in the second verse of the poem the alarm clock is said to be “screaming with pain”. This personification of the alarm clock screaming evokes the horrible sounds of war. “Every time I shut my eyes all I see is flames”. This refers to the fact that the soldiers can never forget the horrible things they saw, the images are “burned in” like the after-image of a bright light. The flames also make reference to the brutal napalm bombs used in the Vietnam War, which burned people alive and were regarded as inhumane. Adrian Mitchell believes that to go to war you have to “put your conscience out” and be inhumane. Finally he criticises the horrible injuries sustained by the soldiers saying, “you take the human being and you twist it all about”. Here is both conveying that the government were ‘twisted’ to decide to go to war and that the soldiers who go are never the same again. Mitchell’s second protest is about the lies the government told about the war. The poem conveys to the reader that the government convinced the public that they were “only dropping peppermints and

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