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Mistress of Mankind

Alliteration is a formal feature devised by Wilmot, in instances towards the poems end, with the ‘willing womb’, ‘mighty mind’ and ‘mistress of mankind’. Wilmot also uses capital letters for words such as “Face”, “Mind” and “Sense”, in the middle of lines. This is a feature, seemingly used to make these particular words stay in the readers mind, being important words. Armitage appears to use a different technique for the same affect by structuring his lines in order to place important words at the end of lines; this can be illustrated by “life” and “blades”, both essential parts to the poems depiction, and both at the end of lines. Armitage uses enjambment to connect all his lines, keeping them flowing into each other. This also gives the poem a speech-like affect, as though this is a passing thought inside the poets head.

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Wilmot uses periphrasis in the line “being yours, and yours alone”, using more words than necessary in the circumstance. This serves to emphasise this point and also maintains the structure of the poems metrical rhythm. Wilmot in one instance uses a rhetorical question with “To damn you to be only mine”. Armitage doesn’t use this feature, however uses commas in the middle of lines to allow the reader time to pause and perhaps contemplate. The line “the doctor said, for eternity” demonstrates this point.

John Wilmot uses metaphorical words, unlike Armitage. “Seed receiving earth” is a natural metaphor he deploys for effect. He also uses grandiose language, demonstrated in “Universal Influence”. Armitage is far from grandiose, with the whole poem simplistic and clear of what is being said. Personification is used by the John Wilmot also when he describes the “willing womb”, as though it is alive in itself. Armitage uses no imagery, he explains the events as they happened, also exploring reasons for the actions which are described.

Both poems develop progressively in their 3 stanzas. Wilmot firstly discusses his feelings upon his mistress; he then goes on to widen his thoughts onto all women by saying “Spirits of your Sex”. At the end of the second stanza he begins talking in an even more grandiose fashion, continuing this into the last by saying “Mistress of Mankind”. Armitage uses a similar technique in allowing the poem to develop stanza by stanza, allowing the poem to be sectioned into certain parts. He begins with his thoughts on an event, then explaining the consequences, and in the final stanza explains his actions in order to complete the sequence. Armitage and Wilmot, use this to structure their poems into divisions to be recognised by the reader.

In conclusion both Wilmot and Armitage in the poems discussed employ several formal features. These include repetition, sound patterning, different rhyme forms, stress on certain syllables to create particular metres and alliteration. Formal features are devised to provide meaning, acoustic effects and aesthetic effects to the poems.


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