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The poem 'Conversation With A Survivor' by Erich Fried takes the form of a dialogue, such as that which might take place within a play, yet the way it is divided into stanzas tells us it is indeed a poem. There are twenty seven lines. These are split between six stanzas, of differing length, but all short - just a few lines each. The consequent white space is valuable to the reader as it gives thinking time between these weighty issues and contemplation time to compare questions with answers. There is no interruption from 'authorial voice' or observer comment, other than the questioner so the poem feels like an interrogation (appropriate in the circumstances and theme.) The questions and answers are written in the style of quick-fire requests for information and give a cold and detached objectivity as a result. The tone however seems to change subtly towards the end, as the questioner seems to consider his own frailty in such circumstances. The rhythm varies here, becoming smoother as the interviewee himself is allowed a question. In other places the rhythm is staccato and crisp and unsympathetic. There are many texts and books that would make an illuminating read in the context of this poem.
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