To The Doctor Who Treated The Raped Baby And Who Felt Such Despair

In which way is the title of the poem unusual and is it effective in relation to the poem's contents?

-- In the poem, "To the doctor who treated the raped baby and who felt such despair."

Expert Answers
Michael Ugulini eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The title of the poem is unusual in that it is relatively long in relation to the short, terse titles of many poems. Also, this title is unusual in that it is conveyed almost as how one would start a letter to someone to give them a message or an opinion. In addition, this title has a matter-of-fact quality to it – just a straight forward statement from the narrator who wants to let this doctor know his or her thoughts and appreciation for all that this doctor did in this very difficult circumstance.

This doctor had to – with professionalism – treat a baby who has been horribly raped. This doctor must save this bleeding baby girl’s life. The doctor must battle emotions and outrage while performing lifesaving duties. This is very difficult to do in this case because of the senselessness of the act on an innocent baby.

The doctor must suppress his emotions to ensure proper, immediate, successful medical action is taken. The title is very conversational and even a touch dry sounding against the intense backdrop of medical professionals trying to save a life. This contrast lends to the unusualness of this title in this poem by Finuala Dowling.

I believe that this title is effective in relation to the poem's contents. The title’s simplicity, but no holds barred choice of words (e.g. “who treated the raped baby”) immediately draws the reader into the poem. The reader wants to know more about this baby and if it has a chance to survive this horrible ordeal. The reader also wants to know how this affected the doctor who “felt such despair.” The reader also wants to know what the narrator of the poem thinks about all of this. Therefore, the effectiveness of the title is that it creates tension and the reader must address this tension by delving further into this intense poem.