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Maxine Kumin’s, Woodchucks provides perspective into the mind state of those influenced by nazi warfare. What begins as a seemingly humorous cat and mouse hunt, soon develops into an insatiable lust for blood. Kumin’s descriptive language provides the reader with the insight necessary to understand to the speaker’s psychology as they are driven beyond the boundaries of pacifism.
The poem does indeed have a rhyme scheme, yet doesn’t conform to conventional forms of rhyme such as A, B, A, B, etc. Rather, each stanza seems to follow the order of A, B, C, A, C, B, which may not be apparent to the reader at first, but doesn’t hinder the poem’s effectiveness. The first stanza begins with the speaker describing their failed attempt at eliminating the pests. The first attempt was described as merciful: “The knockout bomb from the Feed and Grain Exchange was featured as merciful, quick at the bone;” however, the following lines offer a bit of humor to the chase as it seems the woodchuck has outsmarted the speaker as a result of their overconfidence: “and the case we had against them was airtight, both exits shoehorned shut with puddingstone, but they had a sub-sub-basement out of range.”
This first stanza sets the stage for what would appear to be a humorous battle of wits between the speaker and the woodchucks. The following stanza continues in this vein with the cynical statement, “Next morning they turned up again, no worse for the cyanide than we for our cigarettes and state-store Scotch, all of us up to scratch;” however, those that follow are slowly indicative of the speaker’s mental deterioration. The statements of the food being eaten by the woodchucks are filled with bitterness as the language begins to resemble that of a killer. “They brought down the marigolds as a matter of course and then took over the vegetable patch nipping the broccoli shoots, beheading the carrots.” This is especi...

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