Analysis of The Planners by Cheng

How does Change use language to express his feelings about the city’s development? One way in which Change uses language to express his feelings about the city’s development is through his use of senses. A sense of sterility is rampant throughout the poem – Change uses words like “anesthesia”, “dental” and “erase flaws”, which all carry associations with medical procedures and perfection, conveying the image of modern, new, shining buildings.

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This shows a sense of unease about the imperfectness f the human form – Change is uncertain about the future of art, especially poetry, as he writes, “But my heart would not bleed / poetry. Not a single drop”. These lines show his fears that any art in this new, industrial area would “stain” it, and be unwanted. Another way Change uses language to express his feelings is through the use of metaphor. A metaphor of medicine is extended throughout the poem, in particular dentistry. “The country wears perfect rows of shining teeth. This phrase conveys an almost sinister sense of aggression in the use of the word teeth”, and uses the general fear or dislike of the dentist to affect the reader’s view the new society in the poem. The word “teeth” also has connotations with uniformity and shining whiteness, perhaps mirroring the designs and colors of the buildings mentioned previously to be “in alignment with the roads”. Teeth are also changed improved by people, with braces, and this idea is projected onto the “planners” in the title who are changing the area Change is describing into something ‘better’.

Verbs are also used in the poem to express Changes feelings about the city’s development. Verbs such as “plan”, “build”, “grinded” and “filled” all carry the sense of industry and busy movement, and all denote action and activity. The verb “grinded” conveys a sense of almost suffocating uniformity and perfection, as well as being an almost ugly word, not one usually associated with poetry. The words “meet” and “linked” are almost synonyms of each other, and both show the necessity of efficiency and communication in this new society.

The phrase describing all the buildings “meeting at desired points” shows a sense of completeness and perfection that is the main theme throughout the poem. The phrase “in the grace of mathematics” also shows this idea, and uses contrast to make this phrase stand out – “grace” isn’t usually associated with mathematics and so it makes the reader pause and take in the meaning that Change is trying to convey, the idea that in this ‘perfect’ society mathematics is “grace” and not art or literature.

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