Themes on mosquitoes are present in two poems with nearly identical names: “Mosquitoes” by David Campbell and “Mosquito” by John Updike. Both composers, however, utilized distinct rhetoric techniques and tones to convey their contrasting viewpoints on mosquitoes. Whereas Campbell views mosquitoes as “our children,” Updike depicts them in a less favorable light, depicting them as our adversary.
The poem Mosquito by David Campbell uses Mosquitoes as a metaphor for something that is small and insignificant. The title Mosquitoes, plural, also represents the idea that there are many of them and they are all around us. The composer uses personification in the line “They drink our blood for love” to humanise mosquitoes and show how they feed off us.
He also uses the simile “As thin as needles” to describe how long and sharp their proboscis is. This makes them sound dangerous and predatory, which could be seen as a negative view of mosquitoes. However, the rest of the poem has a positive or neutral tone towards mosquitoes. For instance, in the lines “They sing us lullabies / And tuck us in at night” the composer uses Mosquitoes as a metaphor for something that is small and insignificant.
In addition to having the same theme, the poems are similar in several ways, such as their structure and the use of numerous poetic techniques. The structure of both poems is stanzaic, dividing the poem into manageable parts.
Metaphor, for example, “mosquitoes are blood relatives,” as well as other types of comparison, such as “they operate like surgeons.” Personification is another language feature. Emotive phrases such as “remorse,” “jealousy” are used to elicit an emotional response and persuade the reader to pay attention to the composer by emphasizing with them.
Despite the similarities, there are still some differences between the two poems. “A Mosquito” is written in first person point of view while “The Mosquito” is told in third person. This gives “A Mosquito” a more personal tone as the composer is sharing his experience and feelings about mosquitoes whereas “The Mosquito” presents a more objective perspective of these insects.
In terms of language, Updike’s poem uses more abstract and flowery words such as “remorse”, “jealous”, “conscience” to create a vivid image in the reader’s mind. On the other hand, Campbell’s poem employs concrete words which focus on the physical attributes of mosquitoes.
Both poems are successful in giving the reader a new perspective of mosquitoes. By using different language techniques, the composers are able to create two unique yet equally effective pieces.
Despite their similarities, the two poems are significantly distinct in many areas such as tone, the insect’s relationship to man, imagery use, and different rhyming schemes. To begin with, the tones of the poems are very different. Campbell’s “Mosquitoes” has a close, modest, and friendly tone like that of a family; Updike’s “Mosquito” is hostile and resentful.
This is seen in the first line of each poem, ” Mosquitoes” uses the pronoun “we”, this suggests unity and family while ” Mosquito” uses “it”, which creates a feeling of separation and difference. Furthermore, in ” Mosquitoes”, Campbell writes about his personal experience with mosquitoes and how he tries to get rid of them in a safe and effective way.
On the other hand, Updike’s poem is about his loathing for mosquitoes and how he takes great pleasure in killing them. The different tones are also evident in their choice of words. For example, Campbell chooses to use phrases such as “little beggars” and “pesky pests” which are not overly aggressive, instead, they present the speaker’s frustration in a light-hearted way. On the other hand, Updike’s choice of words are much more violent such as “slaughter” and “murder”.
The relationship between the human and insect is also different in each poem. In ” Mosquitoes”, Campbell writes about how he tries to get rid of them in a safe and effective way, this suggests that he does not want to hurt them, instead, he just wants them gone. However, in ” Mosquito”, Updike takes great pleasure in killing them, this suggests that he sees them as pests and wants to get rid of them in any way possible.
The different relationships are also evident in their choice of words. For example, Campbell chooses to use phrases such as “little beggars” and “pesky pests” which are not overly aggressive, instead, they present the speaker’s frustration in a light-hearted way. On the other hand, Updike’s choice of words are much more violent such as “slaughter” and “murder”.
The use of imagery is also very different in each poem. In ” Mosquitoes”, Campbell uses descriptive language to create an image of the mosquitoes in the reader’s mind. For example, he writes that they are “like black raindrops” and have “a lust for blood”. On the other hand, Updike’s poem is much more abstract and does not focus on describing the physical appearance of the mosquitoes.
The tone of a poem may be defined by the way words such as “blood relationship” and “babies” are used to generate a good tone, whereas words like “traitor” and “murderer” are utilized to elicit and enrage feelings. As a result, the mosquito’s appearance is different. The notion that we provide a mosquito with food allows us to have empathy for them in Updike’s poem, but it also creates an unfavorable picture.
The images created by the two poets are different, but both poems are about the mosquito. In John Updike’s poem, the speaker is talking about how the mosquito is a bloodthirsty creature that lulls its victims into a false sense of security before attacking. The speaker in David Campbell’s poem is talking about how the mosquito is an insect that is dependent on humans for survival. Both poems use different language to create their images, but they are both effective in conveying their message.
In addition, the human-mosquito relationship is depicted differently in these two cases. Mosquitoes are referred to as “our babies” and “our flesh and blood,” for example, in the first one. It generates a sense of warmth with phrases such as “They sleep on the white ceiling like the children upstairs.” The desire to defend them as we would our infants arises.
In the Mosquito poem, however, they are treated as a burden, an annoyance and “The little devils”. This is seen in the lines: “They whine and they bite/ And they suck all our blood.” There is no emotional attachment whatsoever to these creatures.
There are also different settings between the two poems. Updike’s Mosquitoes are found indoors while Campbell’s are outdoors. This could be because John Updike was writing from his own personal experience while David Campbell may have been generalizing from what he had heard. Nevertheless, both poems provide interesting perspectives about these much-maligned creatures.