Humanity In Denise Levertov's 'What Were They Like?'

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Humanity is respecting a person’s right to live and sharing empathy between one another. It also includes preserving as well as appreciating the gift of nature. Hence, the poem “What Were They Like?” composed by Denise Levertov suggests that humanity is necessary and are important in times of war. This is because the main focus of the poem was to persuade the readers that war is destructive, especially when lives were simply destroyed for political gains during the time. This essay will highlight how the poet used various metaphors and other literary devices to convey her anti-war message effectively.

In the midst of war, humanity is necessary to prevent it from going out of hand. By using past tense in the first stanza, the poet sets the setting where the Vietnamese citizens have been completely wiped out during the Vietnam War. The setting further emphasised the necessity of humanity during times of war by forcing the reader to imagine the world where a country was completely obliterated as a result of a war. The poet also started the poem using a hypophora to arouse the curiosity of the audience in regards to the consequences of war if it got out of hand. The use of such technique also insinuates that the questions can no longer be answered by the Vietnamese people because they were all killed. By asking and answering simple questions about the Vietnamese people’s daily life, the poet
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The metaphor “…their light hearts turned to stone” highlights that the people of Vietnam were severely affected by the war. They used to be light hearted, relaxed and happy but this eventually changed as the war destroyed their family, lives and home. As a result, the importance of humanity during times of war is reaffirmed as it can be seen where innocent lives were destroyed due to political
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