Truth at Dawn - Kevin Ireland (Analysis)
Truth at Dawn is a poem written by Kevin Ireland. I was doing some of my literature homework and I had to write an analysis for this poem. It was an idea I had to put all my analysis of all poems in here, so that other students might get an idea or grown ups who are interested in literature may get the meaning. Hope you enjoy it.
Truth at dawn
He rose at six each morning,
an old sickness in his brain,
but he gargled an instant coffee
then sprinted for the train.
He swayed with the daily paper,
before throttling it in a bin,
as he raced to a high-rise tower
to sign that he was in.
Then all day long he laboured
at nothing much at all,
and after his time was traded
he turned homewards at a crawl.
And every step got slower
as he reckoned up the cost,
and each footfall on the pavement
yawned, ‘We are lost.’
For there is no refrain more timorous1
than the sound of shuffling feet,
and no message more self-mocking
than the snufflings of defeat.
Yet later on each evening
between the sheets he’d creep,
and he’d always get his own back
on the battlefields of sleep.
In his dreams he was the hero
of romances bold and blue;
his potent2 blade thrust lustily
and his heart made derring-do3.
Only the bathroom mirror
blabbed the truth each dawn,
reciting the same cold mantra4:
‘I wish I’d never been born.’
1 timorous: fearful
2 potent: powerful
3 derring-do: daring deeds
4 mantra: a religious text often repeated to oneself
This poem deals with the theme of a boring, hardworking life. It’s about a person who wakes up at six in the morning with ‘an old sickness’ in his brain. The old sickness clearly refers to his boredom and work. The man hurries to work each day. “He ‘gargles’ an instant coffee and ‘sprints’ for the train”. The words ‘gargles’ and ‘sprints’ shows that he hurries for work.
We can plainly understand that the man does not have much time which is why ‘he sways with the paper, before throttling it into a bin and racing to the building’. At work he trades his time for nothing much at all. ‘He turned homewards at a crawl’. The word ‘crawl’ illustrates that he had worked hard and he’s so tired to walk home.
The fourth verse supports the third verse. This verse says of how each step got slower, about the cost… The words ‘We are lost’, literally doesn’t mean that the man lost his way. The hidden meaning opens, saying that he had labored all day and his tired feet makes each step slower, while walking home, he thinks of the cost of his needs, this illustrates that his pay maybe quite a small sum. ‘We are lost’, conveys the message that he doesn’t know what to do with a small sum of money, although he had toiled hard.
After an entire day of exhaustion, he’d creep into his bed to get some sleep. In his dreams, he would be the hero and portrays himself as a royal blood and he fights wars. He portrays himself as a very daring person. This shows his dislike at working and his only pleasure arrives at night in his dreams.
The poet makes the last verse a closure with a cold and fearful feeling by the words ‘cold mantra’. The last verse completely sums up the meaning of the poem, and the concluding lines are very striking. The man is emotionally drained which is why he remarks “I wish I wasn’t born”.
The poet has used a rhyming effect in every second and fourth line in every verse to make the poem more interesting. Furthermore, the poet has created a persisting mood throughout the poem, making the reader grounded on its meaning. On the whole, the language is not too hard but a rich imagination has been used to create a very striking poem.
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