“Killing a Whale”

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Thesis: Throughout their poems, poets arouse their readers’ interest in aspects of life, including personal experiences and public issues.

Write 300 words analysing “Killing the Whale”, using SLIM to do so.  Don;t write an introduction, just go straight into your body paragraphs linking back to the thesis.  Write effective topic sentences.

Killing a whale
A whale is killed is follows
A shell is filled with dynamite and
A harpoon takes the shell.
You wait until the great grey back
Breaches the sliding seas; you squint,
Take aim.
The cable snakes like a squirt of paint,
The shell channels deep through the fluke
And flank, through mural softness
To bang among the blubber,
Exploding terror through
The hollow fleshy chambers,
While the hooks fly open
Like an umbrella
Gripping the tender tissue.

It dies with some panache,
Whipping the capstan like
A schoolboy’s wooden top,
Until the teeth of the machine
Can hold its anger, grip.
Its dead tons thresh for hours
The ravished sea,
Then sink together, sag –
So air is pumped inside
To keep the corpse afloat,
And one of those flags that men
Kill mountains with is stuck
Into its massive death.

Dead whales are rendered down,
Give oil.

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31 responses

  1. In the beginning of this poem it explains how the whale is killed. The word choice that the author has used makes you feel very sorry for the whale. Words like dynamite make you realize how violent people can be when they kill whales. Also it is described that they wait until the whale breaches to harpoon it and the person who harpoons it must have great aim. “sliding seas; you squint” demon straights the poetic technique of sibilance, the author has used to get the reader more involved. How it is described the whale dying makes you feel bad for it and its sufferings. The poem tells how brutal the people are to this helpless majestic beast. In this poem it has impressive descriptive words to give us an idea on what to picture in our mind and how brilliantly the people killed this whale, this is shown when the author says, “It dies with some panache”. Then the last sentence leaves the reader wondering and wanting more by stating something the ret of the poem doesn’t say “Give oil.”

  2. This poem describes in detail the horrific and prolonged death of a Whale for the sole purpose of the recovery of oil. It conveys to the reader the pointless death of such a magnificent creature. The structure of the poem is written in three irregular stanzas. The first stanza is describing the method in which hunters attack the whale. This poem really deeply expresses the deep concern that the author has over the whale’s life. “The cable snakes like a squirt of paint,” which is meaning that the author is trying to explain how messy and cruel it is when the whale is killed and his sincere distress about the killing of the whale.(7). The author is trying to spread the word what a waste it is to put these beautiful majestic creatures through so much pain just for there oil.

  3. Killing a Whale is a poem with many poetic devices included, making it engaging and appealing to read. The poet has interested the reader’s aspects of life through this public issue. The harpooning of the whale is described and told through this poem, leading the reader to feel upset about the issue and concerned for the whales’ population.

    The poet of Killing a Whale has described the process of the issue through many techniques. In the beginning of the first stanza, the poet wrote in a depressed and melancholy form through rhyme, to catch the reader’s mind and also to make those lines more creative. Alliteration, “fluke and flank” and assonance “sliding seas; you squint” were also used to make the line more memorable for further into the poem and also to create the eerie feel that the men on the boats would have. The poet has also used many similes “… like an umbrella” and metaphors throughout the entire poem to form a mental image for the reader and to make such things clearer; these devices may furthermore be used to create the climax of the poem.
    The second, and also last stanza, is written in a way in which the reader feels sorry for the whale, and inspired to protest against the issue. The poet used mostly the same techniques in the second stanza as he did for the first. The simile – “Whipping the capstan like a schoolboy’s wooden top…” very much demonstrates the harshness the whalers put their captives through. The metaphor relating the whale to a machine grasps the way in which the men aboard the ships treat the whales and gives the reader a better understanding for it. The assonance in the second stanza is used by the poet to create a sadness and sorrow for the whales. These are all ways in which the poet draws out the reader’s feelings to this public issue.

    Killing a Whale is written so that the reader is informed about the public issue while concerned for these animals. The poet has incorporate many useful and well thought about techniques that broadens the reader’s mental imagery. The poet has certainly aroused the reader’s interest in the public issue.

  4. This poem describes the horrid and inhumane death of a whale, which is performed for the recovery of oil, which is a main pubic issue in today’s society. “Killing a Whale “ illustrates the pointless murder of a magical creature, taking the reader on a journey throughout the entire execution. This poem consists of three irregular stanzas. The first stanza describes the hunter preparing, taking a shot and the instant causes it creates for the whale. The second illustrates how the whale dies and how the hunters capture it. The last stanza had two lines, stating that the torture of the whales inhumane and unacceptable. This use of irregular stanzas has been used to emphasize the messy and distraught death of a whale. The language throughout the first and second stanza consists of lots of sibilance. This creates a harsh mood, which in turn reflects to how the poet wants the audience to feel about the whale’s horrific death. “Gripping the tender tissue” is an example of alliteration which is found in both the first and second stanza which creates sympathy towards the whale. The language in the last stanza is forceful because the poet wants the reader to reflect on the irrelevant murder of this guile creature. Furthermore, in the first and second stanza there are many metaphors and similes. “While hooks fly open like an umbrella” illustrates the movement of a harpoon. This simile had been used so the reader can relate easily to the action described and to arouse sympathy for the whale. This poem had been written to inform people of the attacks on whales for the sole purpose of the recovery of oil. Whaling is a popular public issue that is discussed all around the world and this poem illuminates the negatives of this issue.

  5. Killing a whale

    This poem arouses reader’s interest by explaining in all the gruesome detail how a whale is killed for money via oil. The poem is set out in 3 irregular stanzas of varying sizes. The poet has used many devices to emphasize how awful the process of killing whales is. The first stanza explains the creation of the explosives, the waiting for the precise moment and finally the killing shot. The first stanza starts with “A whale is killed as follows” stating that killing whales is a well practised and the system is regularly used. The poet uses metaphors and many adjectives to create vivid and gruesome mental images. The second stanza explains the fragility of the whales including the panic and trauma the whale goes through in the process. The poet explains how the whale thrashes for hours but eventually dies and is inhumanly pumped full of air to float it back to the harbour. The third stanza is very basic and to the point summarising the poem and all of its dreadful and distressing moment. The third stanza gives you a final abrupt ending that proves to be very effective and saddening.

  6. Body 1:
    The poet has effectively used poetic devices to arouse the reader’s interest and sympathy in the violent and brutal death of a whale. A sharp and orderly rhythm is established in the second and third lines of the poem, which creates the mood of a ship’s crew preforming their tasks in a crisp and orderly manner. Alliteration “great grey” is used to draw focus and interest to the theme of the poem, the innocent whale. The poetic device, sibilance can be found slotted seamlessly into the poem; “sliding seas” creates a mental image in the reader’s mind of the ocean waves sloshing against the boat. The sibilance also mimics the sound of the ocean, further establishing mood. The description of the terrible act committed on the whale is enhanced by the use of similes, “ The cable snakes like a squirt of paint”. This simile also contains sibilance in the words “snakes” and “squirt”. The simile and sibilance combined allows the audience to focus on the events in the poem and therefore attracts their interest. In the next two lines “The shell channels deep through fluke and flank…” the emphasis is on the words “Fluke and Flank” to let the reader know what part of the whale is being destroyed. The next part then says “ through mural softness”, these words have a soft tone and mood, reflecting the texture and characteristics of the whale; this is when the feeling of guilt, upset and annoyance strikes the reader. This soft reflective section is then followed by the speed and energy that was apparent throughout the rest of the poem. Alliteration is used again “ to bang among the blubber” this alliteration creates the sound of explosion and shocks the reader that the “mural softness” is being blown up. The simile “while hooks fly open like an umbrella” is used to create the image of the whale being torn apart, which creates sadness for the reader. The stanza finishes on “tender tissue”, the alliteration draws focus to the description of the tender animal being destroyed, it plays on the reader’s sense of justice that such a tender animal is being destroyed in such a violent and brutal way.

    Chantal.W

  7. This poem involves a lot of emotion and makes you feel very sorrowful and depressed for the whale as you read what the beautiful creature has to go through when it lives its painful death. It takes you from how the hunter is preparing to slaughter the whale ‘you squint, take aim’. it then moves onto how the animal is dying ‘its dead tons thresh for hours’ you have horrific images in your mind as the author makes you feel horrified and disgusted by the way the animal is being treated. It then finishes with you leaving speechless and stuck for words cause it describes something very inhumane.

  8. ‘Killing a Whale’ arouses readers’ interest in the major public issue of whaling. The poem describes how inhumane and cruel the killing of whales is for the recovery of oil. The second stanza discusses how the whale is killed, using many poetic devices such as alliteration, similes and sibilance. The simile “the cable snakes like a squirt of paint” is used to show an image in the readers’ mind of how cruel whalers are in regard to the way that they kill the whales and readers are able to experience the trauma the whales’ experience. Using words and phrases like “exploding terror” sets the mood of the poem to depressing and influences the readers to sympathise for the whales. Alliteration such as “tender tissue” and “to bang among the blubber” emphasises the impact of the weapon used to kill the whale, leaving an image imprinted in the readers’ head that lasts until after you have concluded reading the poem, encouraging you to look further into whaling and join the fight to stop the majestic creatures of the sea from being murdered. These poetic techniques are essential in the poem to leave us with a thought that makes us want to find out more. The poem is extremely successful at arousing the readers’ interest in the extremely public issue of whaling.

  9. The first stanza arouses the readers’ interest in whaling through its own unique way. The first stanza is concentrated on the action of killing the whale. In devoting a whole stanza to this action, the poet is evidently trying to give as much horrific detail as possible to created sadness, guilt and pity in the reader. The first stanza has no rhyming scheme and is, instead, staggered, short and sharp. This was done to create a sense of brutality and inhumanity as well as a sense of quick and well-rehearsed routine. The repetition of the ‘A’ sound at the start of the poem firmly reinforces this. The use of alliteration and assonance in the first stanza also arouse the reader’s interest. Alliteration has been used to draw attention to plosive sounds, for example, “bang among the blubber,” (10) and key details in the poem, for example, “tender tissue,” (15). This was done because the poet wants the readers to feel pity and sadness towards the whale. Assonance was used by repeating long vowel sounds such as ‘e’ and ‘o’, for example, “great grey,” (4) to create a tone of sadness and melancholy in the reader, so that the reader is more interested in the issue. Furthermore, similes were also used for arousing interest. The similes were used to compare the killing of the whale to our everyday items, for example, “the cable snakes like a squirt of paint,” (7) is comparing the cable to a squirt of paint, something that regularly occurs in our everyday lives. The poet did this to tie the whaling closer to home in the reader to arouse a stronger emotion. These devices created an overall mood of pity and sadness as well as guilt. This was done because pity and guilt are deeper feelings than sadness alone, which makes the reader more interested in the issue. The first stanza sets up the reader for further reading in the poem by triggering deep emotions and arousing the readers’ interest in whaling.

    The second stanza, in much the same way as the first, again arouses the interest of the reader, but in a slightly different way. The second stanza is concentrated on the aftermath of the killing of the whale. This is done so that the poet can included detail in his writing. The structure has no rhyme scheme, a kin to the first stanza, but is more fluent and saddening. While alliteration is not featured in the second stanza, assonance is again called upon to play a major role in the arousing of interest. Assonance, once more, repeats the long ‘e’ and ‘o’ sounds creating a melancholy tone in the reader and causing the reader to feel sad and pitiful, for example, “its dead tons thresh for hours,” (21). While only appearing once in the second stanza, the use of simile is still used to arouse the readers’ interest. The sentence “Whipping the capstan like a schoolboy’s wooden top,” (17) is a simile that is comparing the whipping capstan to a schoolboy’s wooden top. This draws attention to killing a whale as an everyday thing, but more so as it is our children who are being brought into it. This creates shame and an uncomfortable feeling of closeness in the reader. Furthermore, the overall mood is the same for the reader, pity and guilt, which are deeper and stronger emotions that greater arouse interest. The second stanza brings home the feeling of sadness and pity and this arouses interest in the reader to read further on to see what will happen next.

    The last stanza is a nothing of the previous stanzas; it arouses interest in its very special and unique way. The last stanza is a very quick, short and sharp sentence of what happens to the whale, “Dead whales are rendered down, give oil.” (29) This was done because the poet wanted to create a punch line to stick in people’s minds, to arouse their interest. The sentence creates a mood of shock horror to the reader and generates deep emotions like anger or hatred. The last stanza truly arouses readers’ interest as it is punchy and very affective.

  10. In the first stanza the author describes in horrifying detail how a whale is inhumanely killed. The importance of this stanza to the rest of the poem is quite significant as it introduces the poem and outlines the mood and the subject but most importantly arouses the reader’s interest in the poem. The first stanza has no definite structure maybe due to the fact that killing a whale is so brutal and inhumane that its description does not deserve a poetic structure. The poem is straight to the point with the first line being “A whale is killed as follows” revealing just how brutal humans are, butchering these majestic creatures of the sea. They do their job; in this case being the retrieval of oil from the whale. The repetition of the starting word in the first three lines demonstrates that all it takes is ‘a’ shell filled with dynamite to kill ‘a’ beautiful creature such as the whale. With the words ‘great’ and ‘grey’ the author uses two poetic techniques, alliteration and assonance. These two words don’t only describe the whale, but also emphasize just how majestic this ‘giant of the sea’ actually is. Throughout the first stanza the author employs numerous similes, the first being ‘like a squirt of paint’. This simile is likening the harpoon cable to a squirt of paint. The author does this to express the cable as a shot burst of horror that cannot be escaped. The second simile is the likening the action of the hooks flying open to an umbrella. The author has done this do describe the opening of the hooks as a huge enveloping terror. The first stanza finishes of with the alliteration of the letter ‘t’: ‘tender tissue’. This alliteration really emphasizes the cruelty and inhumanity of the whole situation by describing what we’re doing to the whales . The first stanza evokes and arouses in the reader a mood of melancholy and just how sordid humans can be.

  11. “Throughout their poems, poets arouse their readers’ interest in aspects of life, including personal experiences and public issues.”

    The first stanza in ‘Killing a whale’ implies a sense of sympathy towards the whales and describes the techniques included in the process of killing a whale, subsequently arousing the readers’ interest after a deeper analysis of the stanza. The poet quite possibly may be able to relate to the subject of whaling through selected personal experiences; the first stanza describes the killing of a whale, as the title suggests, possibly from the poet’s point of view.

    The structure of the first stanza possesses no definite rhyming arrangement, although some vague end rhymes are evident throughout the poem. For example, “squint” (5) and “paint” (7) may be referred to as very vast rhyming words. A vague pattern may also be validated through language later in the first stanza: “fluke” (8) and “through” (11), and “softness” (9) and “chambers” (12). These words may not evidently establish a rhyming scheme and, quite possibly, may just be coincidental in the creation of the poem. However, if these rhymes were deliberately implemented, the poet would be searching to create a sense of vastness and unclarity, possibly linked to ideas of ‘lost hope’ for the whales’ strive to survive. If a rhyming scheme was deliberately not implemented, the poet would very likely be striving to create a sense of bitterness due to the sharp, fragmented words, emitting emotions of brutality and malevolence towards the whalers.

    The poet has manipulated many various poetic techniques to help deepen the understanding of the issue of whaling. The use of repetition in the first three lines contributes to the explanation of the killing of a whale – ‘a’ describes the singular form of the subject (etc a shell) and therefore manipulates your mind to the mindset of the steps involved of killing a whale, referring back to the malevolence of the whalers. A series of words containing assonance in line 4 implements a sense of sympathy towards the whales using the words ‘wait’, ‘great’ and ‘grey’ – the long ‘a’ sound is linked to the word ‘wait’, creating suspense in the hunting of the whale. Onomatopoeia is also used through the word “bang” (10) to emphasize the grotesque action of directing a harpoon into the solid outer surface of the whale. The word ‘bang’ is a completely opposite word to associate with a whale, as whales are calm, quiet creatures.

  12. In the first stanza it explains how these peaceful creatures and inhumanly killed. “The shell is filled with dynamite” tell us that even though it takes so much to kill these creatures they do not fight back. “Take aim” is a slight pause before they attack the release their power on to the creature, this makes the reader tense and wanting to read more to find out what happens to the whale. “The cable snakes like a squirt of paint” is a clever metaphor linking the power of the cable to power of the snake when it attacks. “Exploding terror through the hollo9w fleshy chambers” links the felling of fear of the attack to the explosives they have used.
    The second stanza indicates that, like all creatures even though the whale in a gigantic beast, all creatures die in fear and “panic”. “Whipping the capstan like a schoolboy’s wooden top” relates to parents who have kids going to a school by linking their uniform to the death of the whale. The “machine” is human kind and the way we would kill anything to our own needs, and to better advance ourselves in life. “killing mountains” states that we can kill anything but if we do there will always be a conscience.

  13. Leah

    In the beginning of this poem it explains how the whale is killed. The word choice that the author has used makes you feel very sorry for the whale. Words like dynamite make you realize how violent people can be when they kill whales. Also it is described that they wait until the whale breaches to harpoon it and the person who harpoons it must have great aim. “sliding seas; you squint” demon straights the poetic technique of sibilance, the author has used to get the reader more involved. How it is described the whale dying makes you feel bad for it and its sufferings. The poem tells how brutal the people are to this helpless majestic beast. In this poem it has impressive descriptive words to give us an idea on what to picture in our mind and how brilliantly the people killed this whale, this is shown when the author says, “It dies with some panache”. Then the last sentence leaves the reader wondering and wanting more by stating something the ret of the poem doesn’t say “Give oil.”

  14. Thesis: Throughout their poems, poets arouse their readers’ interests in aspects of life, including personal experience and public issues.

    The first stanza introduces the subject of how gruesomely the whales are executed. The poet has gone into great detail which helps you understand how cruelly they are killed; this makes the reader feel sorry for these guile animals. There is no rhyme or rhythm which encourages the reader to re-read many of the sentences which helps get the message of killing these animals through. The evil people who murder these harmless animals ‘’wait until the great grey back breaches the sliding seas’’. Alliteration is used with the ‘g’ sound in great and grey to emphasize the whales’ characteristics. Alliteration is used again with the ‘sss’ sound in sliding and seas. The ‘sss’ sound is sound of the soft gentle waves the whale makes when it emerges from the water. Assonance is used with the long ‘ay’ sound in great and grey to enhance the extraordinary large size of the creature and form a mental image of the whales’ size. The sentences start to become shorter and sharper. This describes how easy it is to kill these animals for the shallow hearted fishermen. Assonance is used again with the long ‘ay’ sound in ‘’cable snakes’’ which enhances the size of the cable and directly relates the cable to a snake, establishing a mental image. For the first time in the poem onomatopoeia is introduced with the word ‘’squirts’’ to define the sound the harpoon makes as it exits the gun and gives a mental image of how the cable moves. A simile is used to describe the cable by saying ‘’the cable snakes like a squirt of paint’’. This creates an image to show how the rapid and unpredictable the cable is moving. The description of the three stages of how the cable enters the creature is in great detail which creates melancholy and distress to the reader. Whales are a point of interest to many people as they have had the personal experience of seeing them in the ocean and know that killing them is immoral and a serious issue.

  15. The poem ‘Killing a Whale’, explains to the reader how horrendously whales are hunted down and killed.
    Its aim is to give the reader a tragic and grievous emotion towards the whale, encouraging the reader to look in the whale’s point of view.
    The message the poet is trying to relate to the reader the awful and gruesome way that whales are killed, which is savage and unavailing.
    In the first stanza, the narrator who is the Whaler is describing a melancholy, creating a dismal mood. “Great grey,” describe the majestic creature, creating an image. The metaphor “cable snakes” and the simile “like a squirt of paint” illustrate strong mental image of the harpoon cables approaching the whale. The assonance of “fluke and flank”
    Which is “k”, creates an unfixed mood.
    In the second stanza, the poet describes the harpoon capturing the vulnerable whale.”Until the teeth of the machine can hold its anger grip” this emphasizing personification, has described the harpoon succeeding its target. The Metaphors
    “One of those flags” describing the harpoon and the other which is “kill mountains” illustrates how prodigious the whale is. The message from the poet is to denounce the whalers for their action towards whales.

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