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“Mosquitoes” by David Campbell and “Mosquito” by John Updike

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With an almost identical name, the two poems, “Mosquitoes” by David Campbell and “Mosquito” by John Updike share the theme on mosquitoes. However, both composers had used different language techniques and tone to express their differing opinions on mosquitoes. Whereas Campbell describes mosquitoes as “our babies”, Updike displays mosquitoes in a more negative view such as our opponent.

In addition to presenting and sharing the same subject, the poems also similar in the following ways, such as the structure used and the employment of numerous poetic devices. Firstly, the structure of both poems is arranged in stanza form, breaking the poem into manageable parts. As for the poetic devices, the most common ones used are metaphor, as in “mosquitoes are blood relations”, simile, “they work like surgeons” and personification, “stealing through the windows” Another language feature is the use of emotive words such as “remorse”, “jealous” to provoke an emotion and persuading the reader into emphasizing with the composer.

Despite the similarities, the two poems are very different in many ways such as tone, the relationship between the insect and human, the use of imagery and the different rhyming patterns. Firstly, the tone between the poems is very dissimilar. Whereas “Mosquitoes” by Campbell present a close, humble and familiar tone like a family; “Mosquito” by Updike display a hostile and resentful tone. The tone can be depicted from the use of bias word such as “blood relationship” and “babies” to create a positive tone while words like “traitor” and “murderer” generate and resentful mood. Thus the image portrayed of the mosquito is different. Where in Campbell’s poem the mosquito is shown as a harmless insect that is dependent on us for survival, “we are their livelihood”, “Loving us…” the poem by Updike shows us that a mosquito is a blood thirsty vampire, “lulled by my blood”

Secondly, the relationship depicted between the human and the mosquitoes differ. In the first one, mosquitoes are portrayed as a close “blood related” family member and are referred to as our “our babies” and “our flesh and blood”. It provokes a sense of warmth as in the phrase “They doze on the white ceiling like the children upstairs” and the need to protect them as we would do to our infants. On the other hand, the alternate poem describes them as an enemy in the dark, cunning and vicious. “I was to him a fragrant lake of blood”. The relationship is violent, and hatred. Furthermore, the relationship is more apparent in the conclusive stanza when one mosquito is killed and the other one live.

Another contrast between the two poems is the different rhythm and use of rhyme. The first one uses a blank verse with no rhyming structure while the second one utilizes a alternate end rhyming pattern. The rhyming pattern gives the poem its rhythm and a consistent beat to it.

Even though these 2 poems share the same theme of mosquitoes, they both express different view on the insect. “Mosquitoes” by Campbell describes mosquitoes as our children as they inherit our blood while “Mosquito” by Updike conveys a totally different vision; mosquitoes as our blood-thirsty enemy. This is achieved by the different use of tone, language and structure, in order to manipulate our thoughts.

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