How is emotion conveyed in Carol Ann Duffy's poem "Shooting Stars?"

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belarafon | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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"Shooting Stars" is a poem about a victim of the Holocaust, an unnamed woman who is subjected to the horrors of the Nazi army and the dehumanization of people in the service of the war. The poem contains many emotional phrases, designed to show both the enormous brutality of the Holocaust, and the unimaginable pain felt by the "undesirable" prisoners.

After I no longer speak they break our fingers
to salvage my wedding ring. Rebecca Rachel Ruth
Aaron Emmanuel David...

The narrator is matter-of-fact, explaining the situation in simple terms to show how she must disassociate herself in order to remain sane. This dissociation is in itself almost worse than a melodramatic narration, as it allows the reader's imagination to fill in the blanks between her words. The list of names has no punctuation; this shows how it is endless, continuing long past the time when the narrator "no longer speaks."  The worst thing here is that she may not be dead, simply comatose or in shock, and the soldiers broke her fingers anyway.

After immense suffering someone takes tea on the lawn.
After the terrible moans a boy washes his uniform.
After the history lesson children run to their toys the world
turns in its sleep the spades shovel soil Sara Ezra…

This stanza shows how uncaring the soldiers, and their families, were towards the human life of their prisoners. It might be interesting to compare this stanza, which allows the "civilized" Nazis their minor comforts (tea, toys) after engaging in atrocities, to the novel The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, where the families and even the Nazi soldiers themselves showed more guilt.

Tell them I sang the ancient psalms at dusk
inside the wire and strong men wept.
(Duffy, "Shooting Stars,"

The narrator wishes to be remembered, even after her death, not as a rebellious hero who fought against the Nazis with her body, but as an individual who remained strong and refused to bow in her mind. Her plea is aimed directly at the reader (although she prefaces this stanza "Sisters"), to call upon all of society to never forget. The emotions created by this poem are more up to the reader's personal connection; the narrator lays out one experience, one terrible event, and allows the reader to imagine the many millions of similar events.