Modern Poetry/Other cultures

Topics: Behavior

The following sample essay on “Modern Poetry/Other cultures”: analysis of poems” .38″ by unknown author and “The Hangman” by Maurice Ogden.

There appears to be overlapping themes running through these poems. Identify the symmetry and divergence, explaining how the poets have used language to emphasise their message. After studying the two poems named “. 38” and “The Hangman” it has become clear to me that they are both very well written, good, effective poems.

The two poems both have short, sharp, attention grabbing titles.

Both titles are death related and eye catching, although The Hangman is an actual person who takes lives but the .38 is the name of an object, which takes lives. But you could also see the Hangman as a type of object as he comes across that he just easily takes peoples lives every day and does not care, and does it as if he is a weapon. Not all readers of the poems will know what a .38 is though, until they read further on into the poem where has “The Hangman” is a title where everyone knows what it is So that’s one difference between the two.

My opinion as having the .38 as the title is that it’s a good idea because people want to read it so see what it’s about. And “The Hangman” as a title is eye catching too because its interesting and you know its about a person so you want to read about that person.

In the .38 the narrator is unknown, The sentences begin with I hear, I could be anybody but the poem is about a man beating his wife, the narrator (the witness) knows this has happened before I know this because the first line says “I hear the man downstairs slapping the hell out of his stupid wife again” again indicating that it has happened before.

Get quality help now
Writer Lyla

Proficient in: Behavior

5 (876)

“ Have been using her for a while and please believe when I tell you, she never fail. Thanks Writer Lyla you are indeed awesome ”

+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

It says that he hears the wife begging for mercy as if this man beating her has power over her. The narrator says “out of his stupid wife” which tells us that the man hitting her is in fact her husband. The narrator is unknown, but whoever they are they cannot help. This may mean they are a baby, the narrator could be a baby in another room who can only hear this entire thing going on but not be able to shout out about it or intervene.

But it might also mean that the person is in fact in threat themselves if they intervene, they could even be tied up and gagged but there is definitely a reason why they cannot intervene. The narrator is upstairs from them at first, but then the women flees upstairs to get away from the man, we known this because it says ” I hear her fleeing from the room, I hear them running upstairs, I hear her outside my door” So why? Why cant that person help if they are only a door away, I feel its because that person is in danger or maybe to scared to speak out. The poem most probably takes place in a house because they start off downstairs and then go upstairs where there are more rooms. So this is a domestic violence. A wife-husband kind of violence.

The poem runs through quickly with short sentences, there are no full stops so the poem is read straight through very quickly, it has a rhythm like a heartbeat which sounds excited and builds up tension. There is no punctuation also I noticed at the end all the lines are longer and they seem to make everything feel like its slow motion. In both poems the narrator is unknown and we have no idea of who they are. They are both witnesses to an event taking place and they both become victims. In both poems the narrators can not speak out either, they both know what is going to happen and just wait for it to come.

In the .38 they also use repetitive techniques that makes the poem sound better, in the poem the poet repeats the words my door

From line 9 to 13 it explains how close to his door they are.

“I hear her outside my door

I hear him coming towards my door

I hear her banging on my door

I hear him bang her head on my door

I hear him trying to drag her away from my door”

They keep repeating that they are by the witnesses door to make it clear just how close this is all going on to the witness. And to make it kind of frightening. And scary knowing that such a horrible person was really close to the witness and makes the reader wonder whether they are going to get involved with the event. The thing which makes it worse is that they are so close to the witness but for some reason the witness cannot help, this could be because they fear their own lives.

Towards the end of the poem the witness (narrator) knows that he is going to die. That’s why I think he is tied up because he cannot help that could be because he was tied up and could not move, also he knew he was going to die but what give him the impression? I think it was because he was tied up and as the man got closer he knew he was coming for him and that he would not live. In the poem the sentences then changed. They get very descriptive about the gun for example:

“I hear the click of the thirty eight before the firing pin hits the bullet

I hear the loud blast of the powder exploding in the chamber of the .38

I hear the heavy lead nose of the bullet swiftly cutting its way through the barrel of the .38”

They say it in detail so you can picture what is happening it makes it feel real and makes you feel like your there.

The whole poem was written in present tense so the things were said as it was happening it made the poem more realistic and made it feel like you were there. The poem is written to build up tension with death as the climax. If the poem were written in past tense it wouldn’t have been so good. Because it was written in present tense it built up tension waiting for what was going to happen next and the poem was written to make it feel like it was real.

The second poem “The Hangman” is also very effective. The title is short and tells us straight away what the poem is going to be about unlike the “.38” . We know straight away what the poem is going to be about. It is about a man who hangs people for a living. The poem starts off talking about the hangman coming to town and setting up a frame to hang people off when he carries out his job. The towns people are scared of the hangman and don’t want him in their town. They do not know who is going to be killed next and are scared. The narrator of the poem witnesses all of the hangings but he will not speak out or try to help any of the people, we don’t know why either this is similar to the poem “.38”

I think that the reason the narrator will not speak out about his opinions of the killings because he fears his life will be taken and he will be hung too. I later read in the poem that someone got hung because they spoke out about their views too.

From the poem we can get some idea of what the hangman is like

In the first verse it says:

“into our town the hangman came

smelling of gold and blood and fame”

This is a good description of the hangman even though it is impossible to smell of gold, blood and fame.

I think the author of the poem wrote that to describe the feelings the hangman gave out. When people see the hangman they all know who he is straight away and what he was there for. This explains why fame is used to describe him. Also whenever the hangman was seen people would automatically think of death, blood because they knew his job was to hang people. Basically he was paid to commit murder. He took lives. He gives out a cold feeling of death and blood. People relate gold to him because the hangman was paid to kill, paid to hang, and he would probably of had a lot of money as he carried out quite along of hangings.

I think the hangman has a cool and calm attitude towards life, I don’t think he minds hanging people, its almost as if he is not a real person with real feelings, as if he is immune to feeling upset and sad about death. He seems more an instrument of death than a murderer.

It says in the poem

“Twinkle in his buckshot eye”

Almost as if he is excited about his job, the twinkle indicates a tiny part of excitement, he has eyes like buckshot led, and they seem scary with no life in them almost as if the hangman is a cold person with no feelings.

But it seems like he doesn’t actually want to hurt the people he hangs it’s almost as if the hanging is his job and its physical. Not emotional to him.

There is a line in the poem that discusses how the hangman does his job:

“As the hangman prepared with an expert twist, the yellow rope in his busy fist”

This line tells me the hangman prepared with an expert twist, expert because he is an expert in doing this, he has done this so many times for all the different people he hangs. He seems confident in doing his work and he can’t stop moving his hands

Like as if he is excited about hanging his next victim.

In “the hangman” the town’s people asked

“For whom you raise the gallows tree?”

The hangman replies:

“He who serves me best”

But the towns people don’t really have much idea what he is talking about they are confused, but too scared to speak out. I feel that the reason the people did not speak out is because they feared for their own safety.

I have found that there are many links between the two poems

Both poems are death related and violent they both involve physical abuse, and killings.

In the .38 the title is attention grabbing like the hangman, the titles both tell the reasons that death occurs in the poem.

In the two poems there are deaths at the end. The reason being they have witnessed the things that were happening and they were not wanted to do that. Both victims’ thought what was happening was wrong, although none of them would speak out about it. And in both the poems the witnesses waited for their death to come, almost expecting it.

In the poems they are also both LAST to die, this may be because all the other people have been killed and now they need to kill the witness, or person who does not agree with what has been done.

Also tension is built up very well in both poems too. In the way the poems were written, their tenses made the poems build up tension.

But there were also quite a few differences between the poems

The poem “. 38” starts straight into the violent stage where as in “the hangman” it starts off where the hangman comes into town.

Also in the hangman the killings are official and legal where as the violence in the poem “. 38” is illegal. The “. 38” is a domestic violence poem where as the hangman is a poem set in public in front of everybody, it is frowned upon but cannot be stopped. Also when the hangman is about to hang people they do not make a struggle because they know that it is allowed where as in the other poem the women struggles and tries to escape harm sadly unsuccessfully. The poem “. 38” is so much more dramatic than “the hangman” and in the hangman it Is accepted by the people that it is his job to take lives although they think it is wrong. Where as in “.38” its totally unacceptable what is happening. Also the poem “.38” is set on modern times where as “The Hangman” is set in an older time period. One more difference is that in ” .38″ it is written in present tense where as in “The hangman” it jumps from present to past all the way through.

I think the two poems are written to tell us that we need to speak out our views and opinions. The poems both involve violence and deaths that shouldn’t happen because it’s not fair to take lives. I feel that the poems are saying… that even in the times of hangmen rite up until recently there is still violence and death which shouldn’t go on and that somebody needs to speak out about it before it gets too late. I think the poem is particularly effective in the way they described the events the poets wrote these poems with great thought to be effective and make the reader get involved and understand.

Cite this page

Modern Poetry/Other cultures. (2018, Dec 18). Retrieved from

Modern Poetry/Other cultures
Let’s chat?  We're online 24/7