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Lucy-Anne Walker

Section A-Question 1
Compare the ways the poets show feelings towards another person in On a Portrait of
a Deaf Man and in one other poem.
Both On a Portrait of a Deaf Man and Brendon Gallacher demonstrate a persons
feelings for another; they are both written from the point of view of one person, but
about another.
Ultimately, both poems discuss a version of loss and grief: On a Portrait of a Deaf Man
-the loss of a friend or loved one through death; and Brendon Gallacher -the loss of an
imaginary friend. In On a Portrait of a Deaf Man there is an aspect of bitterness
towards God, blaming God for the loss of this man. The section in the last stanza says
you, God, who treat him thus and thus...you ask me to believe you and I only see
decay. This could definitely be seen as a jibe towards the ethereal being, implying that
God only ever provided this man with troubles, yet asks for the loved ones of the lost to
put their faith in him; the inclusion of the word decay indicates a destruction of trust
rather than the rebuilding. As a whole, this stanza could be seen as putting God in the
blame frame for the troubles and ultimately the death of this well-loved man, showing
an obvious adoration and admiration for the man that was supposedly gone too soon
-as indicated by the line he would have liked to say good bye.
Brendon Gallacher also implies that there is someone to blame for the death of this
character Brendon. In the fourth stanza, it says one day...my mum says to methere
are no Gallachers. It is her mother that reveals the truth to her and brings this world,
that she has built up in her mind so realistically, crashing down to the ground.
Enjambment is used as a way of splitting the last two stanzas, specifically straight after
the devastating last line of the fourth stanza; it is the defining moment where the
speakers life is altered. In the last stanza it mentions the final moment of the
relationship with Brendon Gallacher: he died then, my Brendon Gallacher. The word
died alone creates a cut throat ending, seeming so sudden -like the world has been
ripped from underneath the speakers feet. Also, the fact that the speakers mother is
mentioned as the one to reveal the news immediately indicates that her mother is at
fault in some way. She did however, deliver the news through the mention of Mrs Moir
an unwilling scapegoat whom has to take the blame. Some parallels could be drawn
between the mother in Brendon Gallacher and God in On a Portrait of a Deaf Man in
this sense: God is seen as the person to blame, yet is not the one to suffer as a result;
the only people who are left suffering are the people whose point of view the poem is
from, due to the pain of losing a loved one. The speaker put Gallacher on such a high
pedestal, in spite of his troubled background, showing a true connection between the
characters.

Lucy-Anne Walker

Furthermore, both poems include natural imagery, but in slightly different ways, possibly
as a metaphorical description of the two characters. Brendon Gallacher talks about
walking down by the river, an aspect of nature that can be both beautiful and
destructive dependant on different factors, accentuating that idea with the line I like
meeting him by the burn in the open air. Fire is also something that can encompass
entirely different qualities depending on the circumstance, but is most oftenly referred to
as something powerful, chaotic and destructive.
On a Portrait of a Deaf Man says he liked the rain-washed Cornish air. Not only this
ideal immediately likeable due to the fact that it mentions the word liked in relation to it,
but the role of rain in nature is to replenish and restore life. Comparatively, these
image can be used to draw concluding differences between the characters of Brendon
Gallacher and the Deaf Man. When using them as metaphors for the characters,
Gallacher is a beautiful, yet destructive person -creating warmth and comfort, but
leaving only destruction and injury behind; the speaker is obviously heartbroken at the
loss. On a Portrait of a Deaf Man, however, creates a refreshing character -a man
whom rejuvenates the lives of others simply through his presence alone. He left behind
someone whom was definitely hurt, but whom was dreadfully happy at the memories of
a kind and loving man.
However different the characters, they are both described with tales of deprivation at no
fault of their own, missing out as a result of lifes everyday lottery. On a Portrait of a
Deaf Man doesnt talk at all very much about the subject being deaf, the only section
where this is insinuated is he knew the name of evry bird but not the song it sang.
Once more, this is a rather beautiful image, with the birds song often being thought of in
the morning, when all is bright and new. However, the man has missed out on this
beautiful marvel for his whole life, yet still is told to have a smile on his face. The
speaker obviously views this man as someone who lives in spite of his life and chooses
to face his problems head on.
Brendon Gallacher was also deprived throughout his life at no fault of his own. The
speaker talks to his mother about Brendon, saying wed talk all about his family being
poor and his father was in prison. The absence of this paternal figure would have also
been a problem for Gallacher, shaping him into the person he was. The speaker went
into such depth in describing both Gallachers physical description and his background
-perhaps to form a more realistic world in her imagination- but possibly because she
was so smitten with this character: her friend; that she wished to acknowledge every
single little detail. She talks about his spiky hair and his impish grin creating a
wonderfully mischievous character with whom she could escape her dull everyday life,
in order to have fun and be carefree. This level of detail, especially talking of his dream
to take his mum away some place nice, shows that the speaker has a distinct

Lucy-Anne Walker

admiration for Gallacher and a need to show and develop contrasting appearances and
personalities in order to create an ideal character.
In conclusion, the speakers of both poems suffer a great loss of someone whom they
loved and admired, and, despite them being entirely different characters, both overcame
suffering somewhat by treating others with love and kindness.