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‘Dawn Shoot’ by Seamus Heaney and ‘Lake Scene’ by David Wright

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Choose two texts by different writers which highlight a strong theme which you could identify. Name the theme and then go on to examine how the writers effectively highlight it for you.

Two texts by different authors which highlight a strong theme with which I could identify are ‘Dawn Shoot’ by Seamus Heaney and ‘Lake Scene’ by David Wright. The theme of these two poems is Man versus Nature.

‘Dawn Shoot’ by Seamus Heaney is a poem about two men, Heaney himself and his friend Donnelly, who go out at the break of dawn determined for a kill. They climb over an iron gate into a large field of broon, dew and gorse. The pair settled on their bellies, hidden behind a bunch of dead plants and awaited the animals return. When a fox came into view, Donnelly put his hand over Heaneys’ barrel and told him that he had this one and shot it twice while Heaney finished it off. After they had killed it, they strolled away leaving it lying in the open.

The theme of ‘Dawn Shoot’ is Man versus Nature, and this is shown throughout the poem in various ways.

The first of these is the way use of “military-like” language. The first example is shown in the very first line where it states, “Clouds ran their wet mortar, plastered the daybreak.” This expression shows that it was a dull miserable, windy, thick grey morning and also that the men were determined to go out. In stanza one, line eight – line thirteen, there is a lot of use of military language. For example “The rails scored a bull’s-eye into the eye of a bridge,” suggesting that the men are looking into the distance and the rails of the bridge look like they are all merging together to form a bull’s eye, in order to keep a close eye out for the enemy. “A cornlake challenged unexpectedly like a hoarse sentry” – conveys a guard emitting a loud shout, whereas “a snipe rocketed away on reconnaissance” – likens the bird to a spotter plane.

The men themselves are descried in war terms also, “Rubber – booted, belted, tense as two parachutists” – they seem to be wearing some sort of uniform, and “We climbed the Iron Gate and dropped into the meadow’s six acres.” This is linked with dropping out a plane. Stanza two begins with, “A sandy bank, reinforced with coiling roots” – this expression tells us that Nature is trying to defend itself and its beasts from killer – Man. Also in stanza two the men settle down in the filed – “Snug on our bellies behind a rise of dead whins,” and made sure they could see every hole where the animals could enter the field – “soon had the holes under cover .” in stanza three – line three it mentions that “The cook would be sounding reveille in seconds.” This is a military wake-up call. In the second last line – “The ones that slipped back when the all clear got round would be the first to examine him” – conveys that the animals would come down from the hillside when they feel it was safe , just like people in wartime who came out of their shelters.

Another feature which highlights the theme of Man versus Nature in ‘Dawn Shoot’ is the fact that the animals know what’s going on.

The first example of this is shown in stanza one, line seven where it says that the cows were “cudding, watching, and knowing” – This suggests that the cows were very aware of what was about to happen. In the last stanza, “A mare whinnied and shivered her haunches up on a hill.” This tells the reader that the animal is aware of what has just happened, and is disturbed by the fact that another animal has been killed.

After the killing the two men, Donnelly and Heaney, “dandered off.” This shows the men’s un-caring attitude about what they have just done. However now as Heaney looks back on this experience he realises what he did was callous and shows some remorse. This is revealed in, “the prices were small at the time.”

Another poem which deals with the theme of Man versus Nature is ‘Lake Scene’, by David Wright. Like ‘Dawn Shoot’, ‘Lake Scene’ also suggests Man is the dominant force.

‘Lake Scene’ is a poem about the destruction of the countryside. David Wright is trying to point out that the production of more cars means that more roads need to be built to accommodate them. Wright also shows that the people are not too bothered that the production of cars and roads has begun to push the lakes and hills back. David Wright effectively highlights the theme by telling the reader how man can be destructive to the countryside.

The first example of this is in stanza one, line three, where we learn that the cars are “Machines that graze on mountain, wood, and lake, pasture and ploughland.” This indicates that the cars eventually take over the countryside like filed that have been overgrazed. In stanza two, line 10, he uses “silica gleam of locust-swarm,” this expression refers to man’s machinery being destructive to nature, descending on it in large numbers. Wright also tells us that too many tourists can destroy the countryside – “And places like this seen to death.”

Another feature which highlights the theme is the fact that people have only a superficial interest in the countryside.

The first example of this is in stanza three, line one, where we are told that the people pass-by, not caring – “Flip by a leaf shaped lake,” and if they do stop it is only to take a photo – “As good as any colour transparency,” and some people may not even leave their cars at all – “framed in a thousand windscreens daily” suggests this. This is followed up by Wright stating “out come folding tables, chairs; plastic thermos, cups; plates, polythene cake, dog on leash, portable telly.” Conveying that tourists have to take all their possessions with them and how unnatural this is, for example “polythene cake.”

In conclusion two texts by different writers which highlight the strong theme of Man Versus Nature effectively and in a way I could identify with were ‘Dawn Shoot’ by Seamus Heaney and ‘Lake Scene’ by David Wright.

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