GCSE AQA English Lit - CONFLICT - Flag, OotB, Mametz Wood.Watch
First of all, what you need to think for poetry:
-What is the message?
-What do I think/feel?
-Why do I think this?
-What techniques are used?
This is the most general formula I can give, and it applies for both seen and unseen poetry.
Flag: Flag is the story of the journey of a simple flag in an unknown area, possibly a battlefield (due to the use of 'tent' and 'field'). The poet uses Flag to question deep-rooted ideas such as pride and patriotism, asking: is a piece of cloth really worth that much? The title, 'Flag' is blunt and unspecific, being purposefully general so that it is inclusive of all nations and all groups who collect under a banner. Then there is the repetition of 'What's that', a question that forces the reader to directly question the significance of a 'piece of cloth'. Further, there is a contrast between the gentle, peaceful imagery of 'fluttering in the breeze', and the horrifying implications of death from 'blood you bleed'. Then, of course, comes the direct attack on patriotism, with the poet stating that the flag will 'blind your conscience', believing that the blind patriotism will force one to commit bad acts. Finally, there is a mirror of 'Dulce et decorum est', when Agard (the poet) refers to the reader as 'my friend', using the same phrasing as Owen.
Out of the Blue: Out of the Blue is a rather harrowing recount of a person of unknown gender being trapped at the top of a building during a fire. This poem is a direct translation of the 9/11 bombings, with Simon Armitage using the footage of a man falling from one of the Twin towers as the basis for this poem. There is an overwhelming sense of fear and panic in this poem, with the speaker obviously being afraid of dying. By the end of the poem, however, this has changed, with the speaker accepting their death, stating that they are 'failing'. This inherent sense of stress and panic is hidden beneath the neat, controlled poem, with ordered stanzas and sentences. Also, there is a sense of the afterlife in this poem, with 'white' and 'clouds' giving a sense of heaven, whereas the people dying and the 'heat' of the fire behind him is in reference to hell. Indeed, the speaker seems to be feeling survivors guilt in the fifth stanza, stating that 'others like me' are dying, and that is 'appalling'. There is even ancient greek imagery in this poem, with the 'sirens' below being a double entendre. The obvious meaning is police or ambulance sirens, suggesting panic and chaos, but the second meaning is the ancient greek sirens, monsters who lured men to their deaths. Throughout the poem, the person makes random observations such as 'a bird goes by', which is an attempt by the poet to show the speaker to be unfocused and panicking, changing thought direction rapidly. There are also many, many verbs within this poem, which is to show the confusion and chaos going on around the speaker, with hectic, frantic movements surrounding them. Finally, the speaker is deliberately vague in gender, age, nationality etc to push the idea that this could happen to anyone (although there is an undertone of fate in terms of 'you have picked me out'), and the end of the poem, 'do you see me my love', is a deeply emotional and tragic close, as the reader sees that the person's family could be watching them die at that moment.
Mametz Wood: Mametz Wood is the story of a mass grave being found in a field, with the skeletons being those of soldiers. This poem is based on a real event, when 600-700 welsh soldiers were killed in Mametz Wood. The poet uses alliteration in this poem, such as 'f' in 'For years afterwards the farmers found them', and 'b' in 'blown and broken bird's eggs'. There is imagery reflective of Henry V, when the poet states that 'the wasted young' turned up 'under their plough blades', as the duke of burgundy's speech in Henry V is all about nature, wildlife and the death of young people. The imagery surrounding the bones of the dead is particularly important as well. 'The relic of a finger' creates a sense of waste, as relics are holy bones, as well as useless artifacts from the past (the finger was used for pulling triggers in the past). 'The china plate' suggests a sense of delicacy, fragility and preciousness for the bones. Indeed, 'a broken bird's egg' is reflective of the constant bird imagery used throughout Mametz Wood, shown in 'mimicked','nesting' and 'sung'. There is a parallel to Charge of the Light Brigade here as well, when it states that 'they were told to walk, not run', and it was their duty as soldiers to follow the commands of their superior officers, even if it led to their deaths (the welsh generals thought there would be little resistance so they didn't think the soldiers needed to run). There is a small part about the 'earth stands sentinel', with a sentinel being a soldier or a guard, again repeating the military imagery. 'The earth reaching back for reminders' shows the importance of the past, of memories, and is also reflective of the fact that in real life soldiers are often never acknowledged for their bravery. 'Like a wound working a foreign body to the surface' gives implications of battle wounds, such as a bullet perhaps, although metaphorically speaking the 'wound' could be the trauma surviving soldiers often faced (such as in Dulce et Decorum est), and this line could show the attempt at forgetting the events. The line 'arm in arm' is particularly harrowing, as it depicts a comradeship as the soldiers were 'brothers in arms' quite literally. There is then a contrast between the joyful, light-hearted 'mid dance' and the 'skeletons', shown side by side in the poem, which exaggerates the feeling of loss and sorrow.
I really hope this helps, and if it does then I will try to upload most of the rest tomorrow
Do you follow a structure plan to what you write about,like pee or smile or peel,or do you do something different.
And I usually just do PEEA, which is Point, Evidence, Explain, Alternative, as offering alternative readings always gets you more marks.
Just a heads up: the most likely poems to come up are Out of the Blue, The Yellow Palm, 'Come On, Come Back' and Hawk Roosting. You may want to go further than just analyse each of these poems and actually compare them to other poems that you'll have to do in the exam.
I was just wondering If anyone had a list of poems which lend themselves well to comparison, as well as a few key points for comparison. This is a little list that I started a while ago, before we had studied all of the poems. I was just wondering if anyone else had done something similar, and perhaps a tad more comprehensive!
Thanks very much,
· Belfast Confetti
o Mametz Wood
o Bayonet Charge
· Charge of the Light Brigade
o Bayonet Charge
o Mametz wood
· Bayonet Charge
o Mametz Wood
o Belfast Confetti
o Charge of the light brigade
· Mametz Wood
o Bayonet Charge
· Attitudes to war
· Attitudes to conflict
· Effects of war
· Effects of war on soldiers