Throughout the history of Ireland there has been violence and injustice. In the 19th century there was devastation inflicted by absentee landlords. They caused poverty-stricken settlers to resort to live in ditches or workhouse and it was not uncommon for people to emigrate to another country. However, in the 1970’s small sinister political groups caused catastrophes with bombs. They led people to mourn for many loved ones. Although both these scenarios are different they brought about the same kind of torment to Irish society.
Each of these situations is described in two moving and shocking poems. William Allingham describes a community’s horror in The Eviction of having to be thrown out of their home with nowhere to go. James Simmons portrays the situation of a bomb exploding during the 1970s and the hideous injuries and repercussions it caused. This poem is called Claudy. These poems make us feel the same emotions but go about creating them in different ways.
The person who has bought over land (Paudeen Dhu) creeps behind the army because he is frightened. There is an irony that the houses were torn down by Catholics and not by Protestants who were regarded as the enemies. They were being betrayed by their own religion. The sheriff and his army were called “churls”. These were the lowest types of person in society. Allingham tries to make the soldiers in the army look alike as if they were all designed the same with no personal characteristics to give them individuality. This makes the army appear more menacing. I feel this is one of the sections of the poem William Allington describes well and makes a great comparison between the moving unit of the army and the scattered community. This shocks us how efficient and frightening the army is. There is very little visualization to be made in The Eviction but one very powerful image is delivered in the line
“And ranks of polished rifles wetly shine.”
This is more powerful because there have been few phrases before this that appeal to out visual imagination. It also follows up the point that the soldiers do not have individual personality because the are described by functions yet the people have names. Another great metaphor delivered by William Allington. He says
“On the wet grounds the hissing coal expires;”
This is a metaphor of the community and their lives. It symbolises the extinction of their community.
Claudy has a similar irony in it that innocent Catholics died at the hands of Irish nationalists in an act of terrorism. During the poem we expect the bomb to go off at any moment. The rhythm is almost like a ticking bomb. The poem describes thoroughly individual shops and people in the town so it is very personal. Once the bomb goes off the rhythm of the poem is killed. After the bomb we are introduced extensively into the injuries of individual people. The poet seems to tell the whole poem with no emotion until he has given up his struggle to hold back his emotion by saying
“And Christ, little Katherine Allen is dead.”
The poets give the poems distinct rhythms. The Eviction has a slow and methodical rhythm to it. William Allington gradually tells the poem moving through each paragraph describing each incident almost consistently with the rhyme scheme “AABB”. This is partially what makes this poem quite lengthy. On the other hand Claudy has quite a lively and bouncy rhythm to it. The poem is told quickly with each stanza having a descriptive purpose. Unlike The Eviciton, Claudy is written in stanzas. The verse paragraphs make The Evicition have a slower rhythm to it. Claudy does not have a set rhyme scheme like The Eviction. One reason Claudy has a swift flowing motion is because of enjambement. It is also delivered with calm objective commentary until the final stanza. The way the both are delivered shock us. The Eviciton has its slow rhythm, which helps the poem sink in. Although the way the more jaunty Claudy conveys the tragic incident strikes us quickly with the horrific facts of the poem.
The towns in which these atrocities occur are portrayed to us in very different ways. Ballytullagh is described as “raw and chill” which makes us feel as though there something bad is going to happen. The description of the tow had a metaphor in it. There is a fog enclosing the town, which is a metaphor for the grim, uncertain future the evictees have. The description of the grim town gave us a moving effect. This makes us less shocked when the awful event happens. However, Claudy is described as though life is peaceful and happy with no problems. The name of the poem acts as an ironic counter weight to the description of the town because we recognize the poem is about political violence. The actual writing in the first stanza does not give away how shocked or moved we may feel later in the poem.
Both poets describe different happenings in detail. In The Eviction William Allington describes in detail the community and the people who are administering this eviction upon the settlers in Ballytullagh. He describes in detail how the army of men came and evicted the people. This put fear in many readers’ minds and made them weary of what was to happen. He goes into detail about the togetherness of the community. Yet James Simmons likes to describe the horrific injuries inflicted on innocent people by the car bomb. He also likes to describe individuals throughout the poem. Both these shock and move us because the injuries are so descriptive that we can visualize them and the names shock us because it helps us think that the bomb actually happened and affected real people.
In The Eviction a lot is left to the imagination by not giving much visualization in the poets words whereas in Claudy much of the poem is in shockingly, scary detail. With phrases like
“An old lady’s legs are ripped off” it does not leave much to the imagination.
The soldiers in the poem shocked me a lot. The way they were described made them appear to me as a wall of intimidation. They dominated the situation in The Eviction by being like this. As no one would want to fight with them. They were a visible force in the poem. This differs to the bombers were we see the repercussions of their actions more than we see them. The bombers form a more sinister picture of themselves because their actions had such disastrous results.
The sufferers in Claudy had to suffer with pain and life long injuries, which will leave them scarred. They maybe disabled or maybe losing a limb and having to live in a wheelchair. They would not be independent; they would have to rely on other people to do things for them. Also the people in the village of Claudy do not seem to group together in their time of need considering that in Ballytullagh they remained as a unit functioning together to help one another. People from the shattered village of Ballytullagh will have to cope with poverty and homelessness. They will have to beg for food and live on scraps if even that. They have decided whether to go to a workhouse or not. A workhouse could result in illness, especially for the older ones who are already weak. The unity of the community in Ballytullagh moved me because they could group together and help each other. It also shocked me that Claudy did not. The main problem Claudy have to deal with is the loss of loved ones but in Ballytullagh they will have to deal with homelessness and the likely hood of death within their community.
Although it was easier to relate to Claudy because it was a real event both poems have moved and shocked me. I find it hard to distinguish which poem shocked or moved me more. Both poem are compelling poems and make you feel the distress within them. Claudy strikes us with is direct style in which it delivers its information while The Eviction drags us into the emotion of the poem with its narrative technique. Overall these were two immensely written poems which will always make a reader feel the emotion within them.