“Gunpowder Plot” By Vernon Scannell Write an account of a poem which deals with an unusual or unpleasant aspect of life. Show clearly how the poet uses such elements as effective words and vivid images to create something memorable. The poem “Gunpowder Plot” was interesting as its title holds three meanings. The author could have meant an allotment where gunpowder or fireworks are stored or a plan involving gunpowder or just a story about the usage of gunpowder. The poem itself holds a double meaning, the first meaning and most immediately noticeable is of the fun and excitement on Guy Falkes night with children and woman running around shouting and screaming, with fireworks exploding and filling the night sky with bright coloured sparks.
The second and more sinister meaning is that if war, when explosions devastate and the children running around screaming are running for their lives. That in war time these beautiful fireworks kill and injure people. The man in the poem was in a war and being around the antics on a Guy Falkes night bring back evil, unpleasant memories of war with people dying. Later in the poem we learn that the man’s brother had dies in the war as the line reads : “I hear a corpse’s sons — ‘Who’s scared of bangers!’ ‘Uncle, John’s afraid!’ In the story the author uses a lot of comparisons, the first one we come across is between fireworks and “Curious cardboard buds” where he describes them as flowers that have yet to blossom and show their beauty. Again later in the same verse he describes the fireworks as orchids, a very beautiful flower that is very expensive, has a short life and it used on special occasions, the same description can be used effectively on fireworks.
The story contains great usage of onomatopoeia and alliteration, using such words as frenzied whizz, fiery, blast which really bring the poem to life. “Glittering golden grain”, “Gulped by greedy flames” are two of the main uses of alliteration in the poem, the first describing when the firework explodes in the sky,the second describes the Guy that the children have made to burn in the fire. The sound used in the poem is mainly that of the fireworks as they set off into the night sky making whizzing sounds and then the pop when they explode. The other use of sound is of the woman running around squealing. The use of colour is reserved for the fireworks, describing them as magic orchids, with their “fiery petals” exploding and filling the air with “glittering golden grain.” The smell of fireworks smell much like that of bombs as the base chemicals are the same, when the fireworks are set off they fill the air around their launch area with a bitter smell , a bit like rotten eggs, this one of the main elements that help to flood the man with his memories.
The message the author is trying to get through to us is that even if you try and lock away evil memories deep in your mind the right combination of events sounds , smells, visions will bring them flooding back into your thoughts. In the poem the night filled with noise of explosions, lights shooting through the air,people running around screaming unlocks the door to the evil memories of war which so over-power him that he is brought back to a re-run of the war where he hears bombs, mortars and the voices of people who died.