Coup De Grace

Coup De Grace

By Noel Moratilla  

When you bother to come
to our slums,
remember to carry
the hardest & heaviest rifles
to jog our memory.
Bring some gasoline to singe
our unwashed
Sear our flesh
misshapen by
bullet holes
with eyes that never shut.

When we welcome you
with hands
reeking of slime or grease,
you’ll find us
so have us handcuffed
for such impropriety
& whisked
to the nearest prison
or graveyard.

Show no mercy if
we forget
to stoop when
asking for charity.
Cut off our fists if
we clench  &raise them
in protest.
Demolish our houses empty
as our stomachs,
with cardboard-thin
standing in the muck.

Gorge our parched throats
with your dirt
& show more pleasure
when we grovel
at your feet.
Should you hear
our famished tableau
babies cry,
bury a dagger deep
into each one’s neck.
When they die,
we’ll put them in
paper coffins
brittle as our sanity.

The next time we meet
& you find us restless
speak to us
of your visions.
Regale us with
More promises,
images, false
when in truth you’re
how to butcher us
even more.

Summary of Coup De Grace

  • Popularity of “Coup De Grace”: The poem ‘Coup De Grace’ was written by Noel Moratilla, a Philipinian academic, writer, researcher, and poet. The poem is political, and it is not certain when the poem was written. However, it first appeared in 2013 in Insights, the college newspaper where Noel taught. Since then, it has become a classic piece of modern free-verse poetry. The uniqueness that has led to the popularity of the poem is in its truth; the poet speaks without couching it in poetic diction.
  • “Coup De Grace” As a Representative of Dictatorship and Poetic Truth: Noel Mortilla is very open about his thoughts about the visiting dictator whom he thinks has bothered to visit their slums with his bodyguards carrying heavy arms and ammunition. He boldly states that they welcome him with open hands though they are dirty, which may seem to him a rude gesture. He could throw them in prison if he intends to, which they do not care about. He also asks the dictator not to be merciful to them and even goes so far as to demolish their houses like he has made them stand up in hunger. He even dares the dictator to ask him to do what he wants. He can even order the killing of their sons, whom they would bury. In the final stanza, he becomes disenchanted and asks him to butcher them, and they know that he is going to butcher them, though he has come with more enticing promises of a bright future and visions.
  • Major Themes in “Coup De Grace”: Dictatorship, government oppression, and empty promises of dictators are three major themes of this poem. The poet knows that when a dictator comes into the government, he promises the public to do welfare projects for them, yet he visits their slums in strict security, keeping himself away from the dirty public. It seems rude to them that the dirty people try to shake hands with him. Whenever there is a protest, there are more bullets and more dead bodies, and this continues until a new dictator comes with new promises. The people, as well as the poet, know that these, too, are empty promises without substance in them.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in Coup De Grace

literary devices are literary strategies used to beautify poetic pieces. The analysis of these literary devices in the poem is given below.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /ee/ in “reeking of slime or grease”, the sound of /o/ in “jog our memory”.
  2. Alliteration: It is a device that means to use words in quick succession having initials consonants such as the sound of /w/  in “we welcome.”
  3. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line, such as the sounds of /s/ and /g/ in “bring some gasoline to singe”, the sounds of /d/, /s/ and /t/ in “the hardest and the heaviest rifles” and the sound of /m/ and /t/ in “the next time we meet.”
  4. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; rather, it rolls over to the next line. For example;

so have us handcuffed
for such impropriety
& whisked
to the nearest prison
or graveyard.

  1. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. The poem shows the use of imagery such as “Sear our flesh”, “so have us handcuffed” and “Regale us with.”
  2. Juxtaposition: The poem also shows different ideas put together for juxtaposition such as “The next time we meet / & find us restless” which shows different ideas put together such as meeting and finding.
  3. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between the objects that are different. The poet has used rifles, houses, and hopes as metaphors.
  4. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from literal meanings. The poem shows the use of the symbols of rifles, daggers, and bullets to point to oppression.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in Coup De Grace

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Diction: The poet has used direct diction with short phrases.
  2. Free Verse: The poem does not follow any rhyme scheme. Therefore, it is a free-verse poem.
  3. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There is a total of five stanzas, each having a different number of verses.
  4. Tone: The poem shows a disgusting tone due to its being an anti-dictatorial poem.

Quotes to be Used

These lines from ‘Coup De Grace’ are relevant to use when delivering a motivational lecture on the future and visions.

The next time we meet
& you find us restless
speak to us
of your visions.