A Barred Owl And The History Teacher Essay

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In the poems “A Barred Owl” by Richard Wilbur and “The History Teacher” by Billy Collins, both poets portray how different explanations to children pan out. Both poems describe the speaker being dishonest to one or multiple students, however, one is more of a little white lie while the other is a lie on a much bigger scale. The first poem utilizes personification and humor to coax a child back to sleep by easing her fears. The second poem applies homonyms and hyperbole to maintain the innocence of a room full of students. Through the use of these different literary techniques, the poets are able to express how the adults provide an explanation for children. The imagery of the first poem greatly contrasts from the overall tone. In “A Barred Owl,” Richard Wilbur describes an owl frightening a child and waking her from her slumber. Wilbur sets the scene with dark imagery: “The warping night air brought the boom/ Of an owl’s voice into her darkened …show more content…

In this scenario, contradicting to the previous poem, lying is very wrong. If the speaker is a teacher he should not be instilling false information in his students. The tone of the poem is third person limited omniscient. Through this we are able to see the reasoning behind why the speaker would give students false facts. The speaker employs hyperbole to over-exaggerate history facts: “He told them the Ice Age was really just the Chilly Age, a period of a million years when everyone had to wear sweaters.” In the last stanza the teacher puts to action homonyms: “Wondering if they would believe that soldiers/ in the Boer War told long, rambling stories/ designed to make the enemy nod off.” Here he is turning boer in bore as in boring. He turns the whole thing into a joke which in this case is not appropriate considering his

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