Form and structure

The poem is laid out in four regular six-line stanzas, with each stanza ending in a rhyming couplet. This structure is interesting since its very rigid order contrasts with the chaotic, disturbing images described in the poem.

This organisation mirrors the actions of the photographer, who lays out his films in ordered rows, as though in doing so he can in some way help to restore order to this chaotic world. The poem moves through a series of observations in the first three stanzas to a conclusion of sorts in the fourth.

The style is almost clinical and matter of fact, perhaps to imitate the clinical approach required by people in this line of work to allow them to do their jobs under extreme pressure. Unlike the readers of the newspaper he works for, this sense of distance is a necessary requirement for the photographer.

Unsurprisingly, in a poem that is so focused on images of human suffering, Duffy concentrates on the sense of sight throughout the poem and the final image is almost like a photograph itself, depicting the journalist surveying the landscape and its inhabitants below impassively as he travels to his next assignment.