"Prayer before birth" by Louise Macneice and "Baby Song" by Thom Gunn.

Essay by wingerUniversity, Bachelor's April 2003

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Louis MacNeice's and Thom Gun's poems use the first voice to look at birth through babies' eyes. They help us see that babies, unborn or newborn, are living but powerless beings. They can think and feel but cannot make decisions or changes in their lives. MacNeice's piece is burdened with desperate pleas from the womb for a chance to live while Gunn's poem takes on a lighter tone towards a newborn's protest to leaving the comfortable and familiar womb.

Written in the form of a prayer, the "Prayer Before Birth" addresses God as its audience but the poet's intention is really to decry the horrors of abortion to the reader. The poem takes on a troubled tone of one who is facing death sentence. The effects of its tone are made stronger through the use of the first person in the impotent unborn baby to dramatize the fact that it is alive and not given a choice for its life.

Each stanza repeats the fact that it has yet live. This set the reader into the speaker's deepest burden as it reveals its concerns.

The poem also uses images associated with pains and fears the speaker faces to communicate its tone of deep depression. The first stanza shows us a child's nightmare of "bat", "rat" and "ghoul"; followed by equipment of torture such as "walls", "racks" and "drugs"; then criminal acts of "treason" and "murder"; men in authority as in "old men", "bureaucrats" and "man...who thinks he is God" and finally the vivid description of the brutal act and the detachment of the speaker from its source of humanity. All these depressive images are interrupted only in the third stanza, with a sense of longing and in warmer tone, to experience life from childhood (being "dandle") to...