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Chapter 15. Picture This: Description > Music to the Eyes - Pg. 171

Picture This: Description 171 A Master at Work The following passage describes a pivotal scene from George Orwell's famous essay "Shooting an Elephant." Orwell, the pen name of Eric Blair (1903­1950) is famous not only for his grim novels Animal Farm (1945) and 1984 (1948), but also for his passionate defense of the integrity of the English language. "Shooting an Elephant" focuses on the use and abuse of power. Notice how Orwell draws on the sense of touch and hearing as well as sight: When I pulled the trigger I did not hear the bang or feel the kick--one never does when a shot goes home--but I heard the devilish roar of glee that went up from the crowd. In that instant, in too short a time, one would have thought, even for the bullet to get there, a mysterious, terrible change had come over the elephant. He neither stirred nor fell, but every line of his body had altered. He looked suddenly stricken, shrunken, immensely old, as though the frightful impact of the bullet had paralyzed him without knocking him down. At last, after what seemed a long time--it might have been five seconds, I dare say--he sagged flabbily to his knees. His mouth slobbered .... Many novice writers rely most heavily on sight when they're writing a descriptive essay or poem, but smell and taste are actually far more evocative. Music to the Eyes Writing a poem is among the most gratifying kinds of writing you can do, for poetry lets you express your ideas and emotions as your language soars. Poetry can also help improve your prose writing, since it teaches you to handle language with skill and precision. So even if you're not a poet, writing some poetry can help you create better letters, memos, reports, and essays.