“Brooklyn Cop” written by Scottish poet Norman McCaig, is a poem that conveys a police officer in Brooklyn to be an aggressive yet affectionate man. Throughout the poem McCaig uses word choice and imagery techniques to express the dual sided nature of the cop. We see that the way he behaves on the streets of Brooklyn contrasts with how he is at home with his wife. The dual sided nature of the cop is shown through the physical description that McCaig uses to convey him.
McCaig does this with the use of imagery and word choice. In the poem the line ‘Built like a gorilla’ shows through the use of simile, the tough exterior of the cop and gives the reader a clear view on what his physical appearance is like. The comparison of the cop to a gorilla is effective as it shows the cop’s top heavy, muscular build and strength, meaning he could be potentially dangerous and violent like a gorilla.
McCaig also shows in the metaphor ‘with two hieroglyphs on his face that mean trouble’ that his eyes are dark and fierce, causing the reader to believe that he is naturally a violent person.
This is also conveyed in the line ‘Thick fleshed, steak coloured’ in which the use of metaphor conveys the physical appearance of the cop as ‘thick fleshed’ which shows that the cop is tough and can take a lot of abuse, along with ‘Steak coloured’ which shows the colour of skin associating it with the colour red to suggest he is red with fury and anger naturally. This highlights on his personality and the environment he works in where it is appropriate to be tough and brutal in order to cope. The dangerous environment in which the cop works shows how he has to be a violent person in order to cope in these rough areas and the people he will encounter. In the line ‘He walks the sidewalk and the thin tissue over violence’ the metaphor is affective as it shows the potential of criminal acts that could take part on the streets of Brooklyn and the threat that violence could erupt at any moment causing him to be an aggressive, tough man in order to deal with the trouble he faces to keep the streets of Brooklyn a safe environment for others.
The use of alliteration in the ‘T’ makes a harsh sound which resembles the area and the lingering violence. The cop’s victims are shown to be treated violently and McCaig conveys this through the use of rhetorical question and word choice. This shows the aggressive, violent nature of the cop and his behaviour on the job. In the last two lines of the poem ‘And who would have to be his victims,’ McCaig uses a rhetorical question which is effective as it shows how savage the cop is when met with violence and crime. The word ‘have’ shows that he will not back down while dealing with criminals and that they are most likely to be hurt or violently treated when met with the cop, making it clear that no one wants to be involved with him on the streets and including the reader and their thoughts on being in the same place as a criminal.
McCaig uses repetition and word choice to convey the cop’s dual sided personality from how he treats criminals on the tough streets as opposed to the way he treats his wife at home. This is conveyed in the line ‘This morning, when he said ‘See you babe to his wife, he hoped it, he truly hoped it.’ This is effective as the use of affectionate language in “babe” conveys his soft side as opposed to his tough nature while on the streets of Brooklyn, which is not expected as he is a violent savage.
The use of repetition in ‘he hoped it, he truly hoped it’ Is effective as it shows the strong hope to return home safe and the genuine want to see his wife after an unpredictable day at work. This shows that he may seem fearless but in the inside he has a violent yet caring nature. In conclusion ‘Brooklyn Cop’ by Norman McCaig focuses on the dual sided nature of an aggressive police officer who works on the touch streets of Brooklyn. McCaig conveys the cop as savage and violent man while in the run down environment of ‘Brooklyn’ as opposed to his softer side where he shows love and affection towards his wife at home.