Black and Decker - Sample Essay

The poem is in a series of three line stanzas ending with a two line conclusion. There is no rhythm or rhyme perhaps reflecting the mainly uncomfortable view of old age. The language is relatively formal with phrases like “so obdurate in your contracted world”. It is broken up occasionally by direct quotations “I’ve lost the hammer” and “I can see you… but I am only a cloud”. These quotations make the man a little more human and both are both picked up and repeated in the last two lines,

The whole scope of the poem is confined to small everyday things like the “Black and Decker” or “smoking your timetabled cigarette” in this way the poet reflects the narrowing world of the old man. By contrast ‘Warning’ is a much more joyful and optimistic poem. This is reflected in its lack of structure – again there is no rhythm or rhyme. Also the sentences in the first part are quite long as if the narrator is dreaming up a whole series of idiotic things to do on the spot. The language is much less formal with its use of verbs like “gobble up” and talks of “eating three ponds of sausages at a go”.

The view point shifts from the ‘I’ of the opening stanza to the ‘You’ when she attempts to show that everybody can have a fun old age. When the time frame shifts in the third stanza from the future to the responsibilities of the present. The poet tries to involve others by using ‘We’. In the final stanza the poet goes back to ‘I’ as she raises the possibility of practicing her freedom now,

In this poem the narrator attempts to throw over the middle class values and expectations (“we must have friends to dinner and read the papers”) in favour of something more individual and fun. It is in complete contrast to the more downbeat pessimistic view of ‘Old Man Old Man’.