Dennis J. Enright, No Offence

In the following poem*, the British poet D.J. Enright gives us his view of a country whose name can only be determined during the process of reading.

In no country
Are the disposal services more efficient.
Standardized dustbins
Fit precisely into the mouth of a large cylinder
Slung on a six-wheeled chassis.
Even the dustbin lid is raised mechanically
At the very last moment.
You could dispose of a corpse like this
Without giving the least offence.

In no country
Are the public lavatories more immaculately kept.
As neat as new pins, smelling of pine forests.
With a roar like distant Wagner
Your sins are washed away.

In no country
Do the ambulances arrive more promptly.
You are lying on the stretcher
Before the police, the driver, the bystanders and the neighbouring shopkeepers
Have finished lecturing you.

In no country
Are the burial facilities more foolproof.
A few pfennigs a week, according to age,
Will procure you a very decent funeral.
You merely sign on the dotted line
And keep your payments regular.

In no country
Are the disposal services more efficient
- I reflect -
As I am sorted out, dressed down. lined up.
Shepherded through the door,
Marshalled across the smooth-faced asphalt,
And fed into the mouth of a large cylinder
Labelled "Lufthansa. "

Talking about the text
1. At what point in the poem did you realize what country it is about? What clues throughout the poem tell the reader what country Enright is decribing?
2. What situation does the speaker find himself in during these reflections?
3. What is each of the stanzas* about? What do the contents of all five stanzas have in common? What kinds of images* are used? Why may Enright have chosen these particular images?
4. Identify the structural elements that keep the poem together and give it a sense of continuity.
5. What impression is created by Enright's use of adjectives and adverbs in the poem?
6. What changes mark the importance of the final stanza? Identify these signals and give possible reasons for their use at this point in the poem.
7. Check your dictionary for the different meanings of "offence". Discuss the meaning of the poem in light of the various definilions.
8. No two persons will interpret a poem in exactly the same way. The interpretation depends on each reader's personal experience and knowledge. What associations does the poem bring to your mind?
9. Name the form in which the poem is written. Why do you think the poet has chosen this form in dealing with this particular topic?