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Shooting Stars is a horrific and moving poem written by Carol Ann Duffy. Throughout her poems she adapts the persona of a female jew speaking out from the grave about her terrifying ordeal before she died in the Holocaust. A powerful impression is left on the reader after reading Duffy’s dramatic and vivid descriptions of her ordeal and immense suffering. The character in the poem urges the reader to remember what the Jews were forced to go through, and pleads that we never turn back. Duffy’s use of striking and extreme diction captures the intense and brutal nature and sentiment of the Holocaust experience for the Jewish people.
In the first stanza, line 1 “After I no longer speak that break our fingers to salvage my wedding ring.” This is one of the many examples on how the adapted persona of a female Jew leaves us with a powerful impression of the atrocities and how brual times were during the Holocaust based on her personal experience and suffering. The example given above illustrates the lack of mercy and compassion the soldiers showed towards the innocent Jews. This indicates that the soldiers valued materialistic objects over human life. Whilst the first stanza expresses the inhumanity actions the soldiers executed, the second stanza illustrates how brutally they treated their victims. In the second stanza, line 9-10 ” Loosened his belt. My bowels opened in a ragged gape of fear.” This shows how the victims were whipped, but if you use letter inversion with the words “ragged” and “gape” it transforms into “gagged” and “rape” this also display that the innocent women in the concentration camps were raped and then killed. In line 10 ” Between the gap of corpses I could see a child.” In my opinion, the child symbolizes innocence, and should not be in situations where a child is the witness of such horrific events.
Carol Ann Duffy’s Jewish persona speaks out from beyond the grave on behalf of the all the Jewish victims, and reminds us of the extreme horror of their ordeal through her use of imagery and word choice, and convinces us to “Remember.” Duffy goes on to list six traditional Jewish names: “Rebecca, Rachel, Ruth, Aaron, Emmanuel, and David.” For the remembrance of the innocent Jews killed in the Holocaust. In stanza 5, line 17 ” After the terrible moans a boy washed his uniform.” This symbolizes that the soldiers believes after the inhumane acts, they can “wash” their sins away like the boy is washing their clothes. Throughout the poem, we are urged to “Remember” the lives that were so tragically lost during the Holocaust. The word “Remember” is repeated to twice in lines 6-7 to symbolize the lives still being lost in the horrors of the world today. The repetition of the word “After” and the use of parallel structure suggests that people just continue on with their lives as normal and don’t seem to be affected by the atrocities in any way. In stanza 5, line 19 ” The world turns in its sleep” makes the reader feel guilty because the atrocities in Holocaust does not receive the recognition it deserves.
Throughout the horrific events taken place in the concentration camps, the Jewish people manages to hold onto her religion despite the large number of deaths occuring. This is fascinating because in genocides it is common that people question God’s existence. In the last stanza, lines 22-23 ” Tell them I sang the ancient psalms at dusk inside the wire and strong men wept.” Through these words she expresses how the Psalms made “strong men” weep. Correlating to this line, “Turn thee unto me with mercy, for I am desolate and lost.” This reference to the Bible’s Psalms and is known as an allusion. It not only reminds the reader that this women held onto her faith, but it also asks us to forgive our enemies and asks us to not to feel ashamed for the wrong doings in life.
In conclusion, it is clear to note that the inflicted hardships, challenges, pains, and trauma of the Jewish people, during events of the Holocaust, should be celebrated and honored until this day. The Jewish people’s unity, loyalty, perseverance, and pride should never be forgotten and disregarded. Duffy’s development of a hopelessly sorrowful and disturbing tone, through a first person narrator, captures the brutality of the events during the Holocaust, while simultaneously expressing the valiance and undying spirits of the Jewish community. Overall, Shooting Stars is a poem about beautiful and unique lives being destroyed, but doesn’t tell the tales of the glory and winning of war. It is notable that Carol Ann Duffy urges us to “Remember” and her haunting words from beyond the grave will never be forgotten.

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