Explain the ways in which the title of the poem "To the doctor who treated the raped baby and who felt such despair"is unusual and comment on whether or not it is effective in relation to the...

Explain the ways in which the title of the poem "To the doctor who treated the raped baby and who felt such despair"is unusual and comment on whether or not it is effective in relation to the poem's contents. 

 

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teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The poem's title is unusual is being longer than the average poem title and more prosaic than poetic. In other words, it reads like the first line of a letter. It is informative rather than filled with images, although "raped baby" is an image. The words "raped baby" have a shock value that might normally be left out of a poem's title and saved to show up later. (This being said, it's important to note that these are generalities and that poems have a very wide variety of titles and formats.)

The title is effective in the context of the poem's contents because the body of the poem shows ways ordinary people care for babies and young children, sometimes sacrificing their own comfort to do so: the old man with thin legs walking the floor with a crying baby a night, women nursing babies, people reading young children stories or leaving a night light on for them. These stories contrast with the horror of the rape the doctor must treat and are an antidote to the "despair" he feels. However, the title could also lead one to expect a much darker poem and perhaps not even want to read it, because the words "raped baby" are so intensely powerful and disturbing.