(Note that analyses can vary widely, hence these annotations must only be used in conjunction with your own analyses).

Annotations of Giuseppe by Roderick Ford.

Summary of Giuseppe:

Title: a variation of the name ‘Joseph’ (Italian origin), a pretty common name. Suggests the common nature of the events told in the poem.

Tone: factual, simple language. Little imagery. Uses scientific language as if to justify dehumanising actions through facts, objective point of view.

Summary: The narrator tells the story his uncle Giuseppe recounts of an event in WWII, during which a captive mermaid was killed and fed to the starving troops. On a larger reading, the poem could represent the hypocrisy present in the discrimination during the Nazi regime. Historical realism and fantasy combine to give the poem an eerie and surreal atmosphere.

Structure: enjambment used to unfold justifications for claims. # of lines of stanzas dwindle — like it’s coming to a stop. Regular sentence lengths, supports scientific, clinical tone. No rhyme scheme.

Themes: Atrocities, war, humanity, fantasy, conflict.

Devices used: Extended metaphor (the myth as a representation of the Nazi ethnic cleansing), contradiction (between what’s said and what the narrator thinks), repetition of ‘but’ and ‘fish’ (underline hypocrisy), simile (brings question of what makes us human), alliteration (drags out the sound, adds tension? Because her death), irony (human qualities and tradition, but keep denying mermaid’s humanity), personification, symbolism (aquarium = prison, mermaid = oppressed minority),

Links to other poems: The Deliverer, Lammas Hireling, The Gun.


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