‘An examination of her body after death’ Essay



This is an essay on the poem “An examination of her body after death” Glen Colquhoun. In this essay I will discuss two of the important ideas aired in this poem- Denial and remembrance- and I will also discuss two language features he uses to express these ideas- Repetition and metaphors/imagery.

One of the important ideas in this poem is Denial.  This is denial of the death of his close friend/loved one, who he is now examining in the morgue. The author uses negatives to show this through repetition of the line “you are not her…” at the beginning of every stanza. He says this as he examines each area of her body and does not see his friends body there but rather some ‘different’ thing and example would be “you are not her shoulders… these are made form brittle wax.” This helps the reader understand the idea of denial through the repeated use of negatives at the beginning of every stanza, showing he cant believe it is her and that he see’s her differently now.

Another idea in the poem is memories. These are Colquhouns memories of the woman he is examining, and also comparing them to what he now sees’s before him on the examination bench. The language feature he uses to air this idea is the use of metaphors. An example of his use of metaphors to show the idea of his memories of the woman and his comparison to what he sees.s now before him is the fourth stanza.

“You are not her mouth!

Would someone please explain?

The sound of birds has gone away

So bold these two fat worms

Now hungry for the dirt.”

In this stanza the metaphor shows that the beautiful voice he once remembered the woman having  is now gone through the metaphor “The sound of birds has gone away..” comparing her voice to the sound of birds. He compares his memories  with what he see’s  now through the metaphor “these two fat worms now hungry for the dirt” which shows how he no longer see’s the mouth he knew but rather just two fat worm like lips soon to be in the dirt grave.

The author’s purpose in this poem is to express his grief for the loss of a loved one. Through the  techniques ,negatives and metaphors, Colquhoun has used he created a dark mournful mood which serves his purpose of expressing his grief at the loss.