The ‘War Photographer’ is an extremely deep and interesting piece of work. The poet was inspired to write it after getting inspired through spending a portion of her time with a person who worked as an actual war photographer!
The poet uses quite a few literary techniques in order to convey the sense in which the photographer is to be viewed. First of all, the text is evenly divided into four stanzas with each one having six lines; this can be analogous to the situation of a war photographer that’s stagnant and unchanging, i.e. always being the outsider that can neither remove himself nor alleviate the painful episodes from the situation.
The poem emphasizes on different settings in different stanzas:
Stanza 1 = Printing Room
Stanza 2 = ‘Rural England’
Stanza 3 = The Battlefield
Stanza 4 = Photographer’s Office + An Aeroplane
Such distribution portrays the extent and limitation of a war photographer’s life - that’s confined to and revolves between certain specific locations.
Short sentences and imagery produced through vocabulary allow the reader to vividly imagine the gruesome horrors of a war, and how little can be done in certain situations to aid the victims.
The punctuation is also unevenly spread that gives it a dramatic sense and adds further to the dismal tone of the work, for instance in the following stanza emphasis has been laid through unevenly spread out commas and full stops:
He has a job to do. Solutions slop in trays
beneath his hands, which did not tremble then
though seem to now. Rural England. Home again
to ordinary pain which simple weather can dispel,
to fields which don’t explode beneath the feet
of running children in a nightmare heat.
So the overall structure looks at the horrors of war but the brutality of life that forces men to still earn off it!