Prayer before birth analysis

Essay by Ru2s0s0i3anCollege, UndergraduateA, February 2004

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Louis MacNeice expresses his strong views on the human life by writing a poem through an unborn child's voice.

He starts off by asking God to protect him from various dangerous animals that could harm him such as blood sucking bats and land rats. The poet uses vivid language through the child's fears through words such as hear me and not come near me which also rhyme.

Furthermore the poet tries to emphasize the unborn fears through metaphors such as human race may with tall walls wall me, being afraid of being taken control by other people who use wise lies to make believe something that is not true .The tone of fear despair and sadness is stressed constantly throughout the poem with the repetition of I am not yet born as it shows that although the foetus hasn't entered the human world yet, he is already concerned about all the evils that could affect him

Alliteration such as grass to grow for me and trees to talk to me and personification like water to dandle me add to the deep meaning of the poem but in this stanza referring to the good aspects of human life.

The fourth stanza is concerned with all the sins that humans commit in this world. The foetus's fear of sinning is seen though the metaphors of my worlds when they speak me. And my thoughts when they think me as he is afraid of being brainwashed performing acts beyond his control which would turn him away from anything holy and sinful.

Throughout the poem the poet uses such a form of writing that each stanza starts from being wide and then narrows down towards the end and makes it easier for the reader to carry on as the poet feel s the pressure on him from society.

The fifth stanza refers to the foetus being worried about various situations in his future human life as for example old en lecture me and bureaucrats hector me, but he wants God to help him stand up by himself even when he is under pressure from other people. He also wants God to help him how to choose the right path even in the mast dangerous times as in the metaphors white waves call me to folly and the desert calls me doom referring to various dangerous adventures the he might be tried to lure into.

The foetus desires to be protected from people who think they are better than others, the man who is beast or who thinks he is God. The negative vocabulary emphasizes the depressing mood of the poem.

The stanza before last is more detailed in the foetus's description of fears about human life which implies to his unwillingness to be turned into a person who doesn't think for himself being brainwashed by other people and performing acts that hey want him to perform, a cog in a machine. He doesn't want to be used by other in anyway, thither or hither and thither like water held in the hands that would spill me.

The last stanza concludes the unborn child's fear of being turned into a being without his own thoughts or feeling. It concludes that rather turning into a machine without thought he'd rather not be born, 'otherwise kill me'.

Louis MacNeice has quite a negative view on human life which he demonstrates through his style of writing and use of vivid language and imagery. The poet sees the society turning its members into uncaring human beings unable to think for themselves because of pressure from other people surrounding them.