“Daniel at Breakfast” is a poem that is divided into five stanzas. In the first four stanzas we can find an a-b-c-b rhyme scheme. In the last stanza, which contains six lines instead of four, there is an a-b-a-b-c-c rhyme system. The scene of this poem takes place one ordinary morning as Daniel is eating his breakfast. During his breakfast, he reads the newspaper. He reads about “famine, storm, pestilence, decay.” These are some of the major disasters in the world that day. By using many examples of such major disasters, Phyllis McGinley achieves a repetitious effect. At the same time, she describes Daniel’s movements while having breakfast. He “sips his orange juice” and reaches for the butter.
The author of this piece of poetry contrasts the major problems in the world, which Daniel reads about in the paper, with the trivialities that Daniel is facing. This is well expressed in the extract taken from the text on the question paper. It shows that it does not seem that Daniel cares very much about the global problems, but when “the coffee’s weak again”, he becomes upset. I believe Phyllis McGinley is trying to tell us that quite many people are just like Daniel. We may be very self-centred and think of ourselves first. We register all the catastrophic happenings around the world, but our own small problems are still the most important ones.