The Cockroach by Kevin Halligan
- Pages: 3
- Word count: 571
- Category: Poetry
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The poem, ‘The Cockroach’, is a short scene of a cockroach and how it made its way around a room, moving in lines and loops. It uses many different forms of imagery to portray the cockroach giving it emotion and character. Halligan also compares the cockroach to himself, leading the reader to believe that the cockroach is symbolic of life itself.
When looking at a piece of poetry, the first thing we read is the title. So in this case, one must wonder why and how Kevin Halligan chose the words he did for his title of the poem: The Cockroach. Firstly the word ‘The’ gives the reader a sense of a one specific cockroach. Not just any cockroach in general, or all cockroaches, but the one in this poem, which he describes in vivid detail. The word ‘Cockroach’, not a topic usually written about by many poets, gives readers a sense of curiosity that lures them in, thus making the title stand out. The usual connotation of cockroach being a dirty pest has been overlooked. Instead throughout the poem, Halligan’s eyes follow the cockroach, recalling all of its movements as it scurries along the dusty room floor.
Kevin Halligan repeatedly personifies the cockroach in many ways, giving it its own personality. Halligan calls the cockroach ‘he’ rather than ‘it’, possibly implying, that he thinks of the insect as more than it actually is. He gives it feelings of satisfaction, restlessness and uncertainty. Halligan also uses the word ‘jogging’ to portray its movements. Using such a human word to describe the actions of a scuttling bug, further illustrates my point. He also uses a simile to compare the cockroach’s erratic movements to that of ‘a victim of a mild attack.’ This makes the cockroach seem humanlike, able to think and make decisions. At the end of the poem, Halligan also relates the cockroach to himself: ‘Except I thought I recognized myself,’ claiming that he might’ve saw some characteristics of himself in the cockroach.
This leads me to believe that the poem about the cockroach, is really all about the poet, Kevin Halligan, analyzing his own life, through the eyes of a cockroach. In the beginning the cockroach is simply pacing back and forth; satisfied with a path it’d been on. However, soon it begins to change as the cockroach differs from its usual path, circling table legs, going roundabout on a road to nowhere. Restlessness takes over. This could reflect back on Halligan, how he could’ve been happy with a simple life, until one day it wasn’t enough. Maybe he wanted to create a new path for himself, but instead found himself walking in circles, never truly being able to leave. The cockroach then moves up to an open shelf, stopping finally, unsure of what’s next. This could suggest, Halligan at a stalemate with his life. Perhaps while he watched the insect, he connected the dots, realizing that he figuratively was the cockroach.
In conclusion, Halligan effectively uses personification and similes to give life and an almost human character to a cockroach. While journeying across the floor, it might’ve also depicted the poet’s timeline. From being satisfied with the everyday routine, to frustrated, and seeking something better, and failing to do so. Finally as the cockroach stills itself, Halligan is also still, both uncertain of the future, and of what path they should next take.