Poetry
Question

Why might Dooley have chosen to switch between the past and present tense in ‘Letters from Yorkshire’?

1 year ago

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L

Luna Lesch


2 Replies

Misty Profile Picture
Misty Best Answer!

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The shift between past tense and present can also be intepreted as a shift between narrative voice and direct address. This is a technique used by many poets e.g. Carol Ann Duffy's - Before you were mine specifically to highlight a place in time, regardless of whether the poet was there for it. In Dooley's poem, it is enormously significant and brilliant that you picked up on this.

Dooley's shift between past and present tense is a deliberate literary deviced used in comparison between the working life of her father's time and the current world - the shift between labour and the now established norm of sedentary office work. Here lies an underlying tone of doubt and scepticism with the rhetorical question, 'Is your life more real because you dig and sow?' It is important to remember that Dooley's poem is not one of differentiation, but rather the focussing on human exhaustion; be it physical or mental fatigue. Dooley intentionally propagates the argument that physical exhaustation is not more detrimental than the mental exhaustation we experience at the hands of capitalism. (Research context relevant to the shift from labour intensive production to capital intensive production since the evolution of technology) This is essential to the context of the poem and thus understanding the feelings Dooley was trying to convey.

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Emily B Profile Picture
Emily B Best Answer!

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Dear Luna

I think it is definitely a possibility that this was a choice to reflect the meaning of the past and its influence on the present. Nostalgia ...

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Emily


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