Ispahan Carpet by Elizabeth Burge Rough

2 Pages 587 Words November 2014

The poem, "Ispahan Carpet," by Elizabeth Burge Rough, was written in the first person point of view, with the persona who is probably a tourist or visitor, feeling sympathetic to the carpet weavers and appalled at the use of child labour. It is about the inescapable nature of culture, no matter how cruel the tradition may be. The author uses imagery , figurative language and contrast to express this idea. The poem begins by drawing out the setting through grim visual imagery using words such as "gallows," "rough," "silent" and "sallow." The word gallows makes the workstation seem dangerous and deadly as the word is often associated with the gallows which are used to hang criminals or cattle to their death. However instead of it being quick, instantaneous and merciful, the death is drawn out slowly through the weaving process. This immediately creates an ominous setting of the workplace "on which the carpets are woven." The alliteration of the words "silent and sallow" that describe the Persian family who work and weave the carpets emphasise the toll of the harsh work as the word silent suggests that they are unable to protest and that they have no say whatsoever. "Sallow" helps readers visualise the toll the work and conditions have taken on them to the point that their skin turns sickly yellow.
The visual imagery and juxtaposition of the room "bare but for blackened pots and jars" against "the sensuous jewelled arabesques" which describe the beautifully woven carpets suggests that the family who work so arduously in such vile conditions do not get much in return for doing so, as the room they work in is bare. The pots and jars that are ‘blackened’ all suggest that the conditions are dirty and that what little belongings that they had have been contaminated and made filthy. The extended metaphor of the young girls as birds through the phrases "sit sparrowed on a plank" and 'their unsupported bird-bones" emphasize their vulnerabili...

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