AQA English Literature GCSE Power and Conflict Poetry Revision Guide

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Welcome to the AQA Cluster 2 Poetry Revision Guide!

Hello, and welcome to our guide! In this guide we will be giving you a rough guide on how to answer the seen poetry question in your English Literature exam, as well as a variety of practise questions you can use and a basic analysis of each poem. This is not definitive in any way-so if we do not use a particular quote from the poem in our key quotes section, it does not mean it is not a perfectly valid quote to analyse! In fact, if it is part of the poem then it is definitely valid
If you came here looking for something in particular then here is our contents which you can use to find what you were looking for

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The Poems
There are 15 poems in the AQA power and conflict cluster. All the poems, naturally, have a link to either power or conflict. This may be a literal conflict for power, or a mental/emotional conflict. For each poem it is necessary to know the context behind it, such as what inspired the poet to write the poem, or what was happening at the time of writing. Below are the requirements for the exam.

The Exam
In 2019, the AQA English Literature Poetry and Prose exam is on Thursday 23rd May in the morning. There will be 2 hours and 15 minutes for this exam, in which you must write a 34 marker (including 4 SPaG marks) on your Modern Text, a 30 marker for your anthology poetry and finally a 24 and an 8 marker for the unseen poetry.
Within the 30 marker for the seen poetry, you must write about the poem which it specifies, plus one other from the cluster. For this you will have approximately 40 - 45 minutes to plan and write the answer. An example question would be:

Compare the ways poets present ideas about power in ‘Ozymandias’ and in one other poem from ‘Power and Conflict’.

You will get a blank copy of the poem it tells you to use, however you have to remember key quotes from several of the poems as you need one to compare it to, and without quotes it is difficult to analyse the language.
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Theme Comparison Guide
Here are a list of themes and the suggested poems which can be linked to these themes (Source: CGP Power and Conflict revision guide). This list is not definitive either in the list of themes or the poems within the themes, however it can be used for inspiration when thinking about comparisons which can be made.
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Practice Questions

Here are some questions you can use to practice for your exam. You can also make up your own questions using the themes and poems above!

Compare the ways poets present power and regret in My Last Duchess and one other poem in the power and conflict anthology.
Compare the ways poets present power of nature in Kamikaze and one other poem in the power and conflict anthology.
Compare the ways poets present time and power in Ozymandias and one other poem in the power and conflict anthology.
Compare the ways poets present conflict of remembrance in Poppies and one other poem in the power and conflict anthology.
Compare the ways poets present internal conflict in War Photographer and one other poem in the power and conflict anthology.
Compare the ways poets present power as a futile thing in Tissue and one other poem in the power and conflict anthology.
Compare the ways poetry present the conflict of identity in Checking Out Me History and one other poem in the power and conflict anthology.

How to Answer Exam Questions

You should allow roughly 45 minutes to answer the comparison question. You should split this into 5 minutes planning, 35 writing and 5 checking.
In each paragraph you should aim to include the following:
  • Use a comparative tone throughout. You shouldn't just analyse one poem, put similarly/on the other hand and then analyse the other poem, but instead should be going constantly back and forth between them (always making it clear which poem you are referring to)
  • Do not use several lines of quotes in each paragraph. Instead take a phrase, or even a single word to analyse and analyse it in detail.
  • Where possible, do not say "The word "x" shows this...", instead use subject terminology, "The noun "x" implies..."
  • Refer to poetic techniques where relevant. Show the examiner you know what the technique is called!
  • Talk about the affect on the reader (otherwise known as the reader response). Do not say "makes them feel sympathetic" unless you explain why.
  • Include context wherever you can. 20% of the marks in this essay are for context.
  • Constantly refer back to the question and the theme given, especially at the end of each paragraph.
  • For the highest grades you need to have unique interpretations of your quotations, so do not be afraid to write things your teacher has not said, as long as you can back it up!

Within your essays you should ideally have 5 paragraphs containing all of the detail above. These 5 paragraphs should each be focused on an element of MITSL (or another acronym your teacher has given you).
M-meaning: This is the overaching meaning of the poem in relation to the theme given in the question. It is a great opportunity to include context as well as the overall reader response. For each poem you should have a quote or two memorised which sums up the whole poem. For example, in London you could use "mark in every face I meet"
I-imagery: This includes many poetic techniques such as metaphors, similes and more. If it creates an image in your head it can be included here! Many of these techniques can also be included in the language techniques, so try to make sure you have different ones in each paragraph.
T-tone: For many this is the most difficult paragraph to write, however it is explitly in the mark scheme so you should definitely include it! In this paragraph you should include a quote which sums up the overall mood of each poem. This is a particularly good place for reader response/affect on the reader. It's ok for this paragraph to be shorter than the others if you aren't analysing language in it.
S-structure: This includes everything from number of stanzas, to the rhyme scheme to the use (or non use) of enjambment and caesura. You can evaluate the affect of these, and what is says about the speaker if relevant. The rhythm can also be used to support this.
L-language: This is anything else which you have not yet analysed. From onomatopoeia, to irony, this is where you analyse the other techniques used in the poem and link it back to the main question for a final time. As always, remember to refer to the reader response.
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The Poem
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Context for Poet
  • The poet is Percy Bysshe Shelley.
  • Shelley is very famous for his romantic poem writings. Hence, he is part of a group of poets called the Romantics.
  • His family were very wealthy however he was disinherited as a young adult.
  • He went to university but was expelled for writing about atheism, which was why he was disinherited.
  • Shelley was known as "radical" in his lifetime.

Context for Poem
  • Ozymandias is also known as Ramesses II, who was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh.
  • The poem was written in 1817.

  • The narrator of Shelley's poem says he met a traveller from an "antique" (ancient) land and then tells us the story the traveller told him. The man had seen the remains of a huge statue in the desert. There were two enormous legs without a trunk and next to them lay a damaged "visage" (face). At the foot of the statue were words which reflected the arrogance and pride of Ozymandias. Those words seem very hollow now as the magnificent statue is destroyed and none of the pharaoh's works have lasted.

Title analysis
  • The name "Ozymandias" commands power and respect, much more than the name Ramesses II would, even as a pharaoh.
  • Ozymandias is a Greek translation of part of Rameeses' throne name "User-maat-re Setep-en-re."

Key Quotes, Poetic Techniques and Analysis
  • "Sneer of cold command"
    Poetic technique(s): alliteration
    - "Sneer" depicts a nasty expression which suggests he is prideful and selfish.
    - "Cold command" implies he is bossy and self absorbed, as well as detached from those he orders around, perhaps feeling superior to them.
  • "Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
    Poetic technique(s): exclamation, irony
    - This declaration shows that Ramesses believes he is all powerful over everyone.
    - The fact we know that all that is left of his Kingdom is a single statue is ironic, as time and nature have got the better of him, so he is not all powerful.
    - The saying "pride comes before a fall" can be applied here, as this declaration is full of pride and intimidation yet the next line says "nothing besides remains".
  • "colossal wreck"
    Poetic technique(s): oxymoron
    - This shows how even great things can go to ruin, which implies time and nature have control over everything since not even a powerful ruler could defeat them.
  • "boundless and bare"
    Poetic technique(s): alliteration
    - This refers to the "sands" which suggests once again that nature has control over everything, as it has no limits (boundless).

Structure and Form
  • The poem has one stanza of 14 lines.
  • It is an irregular sonnet.
  • Each of the lines are 10 syllables long.
  • The rhyme scheme is A B A B A C D C E D E F E F.
  • It is written in iambic pentameter.

  • Power (of humans and nature)
  • Intimidation
  • Time
  • Pride
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The Poem
I wander through each chartered street,
Near where the chartered Thames does flow,
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

In every cry of every man,
In every infant's cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forged manacles I hear:

How the chimney-sweeper's cry
Every black'ning church appalls,
And the hapless soldier's sigh
Runs in blood down palace walls.

But most through midnight streets I hear
How the youthful harlot's curse
Blasts the new-born infant's tear,
And blights with plagues the marriage hearse.

Context of the Poet
  • William Blake was born in 1757 in London and died in 1827.
  • He was a poet, painter and printmaker.
  • He respected the Bible, but disliked organised religion such as the Church of England.
  • In 1800, he moved from London to the village of Felpham, but returned in 1804.
  • He often wrote about rebelling against the misuse of power and class.

Context of the Poem
  • It was published four years after the outbreak of the French Revolution. Blake may be calling for the poor people of London to rise up and seize power.
  • London was becoming more and more industrial. Blake expresses his concerns on impact for city and its people.

SynopsisThe speaker walks through the streets of London talking about all the negatives, and how the poor have no power, money or freedom while the government control everything.

Title Analysis
  • London signifies many things to people from the power base, to the busy capital, to simply expensive. Blake uses this to show how much London could improve if things were changed.
  • London contains people of all classes, so it was a wish of Blake's for the poor and the rich to be treated equally like how people think of London as one whole thing
  • London implies that the masses have power, and so everyone should pull together to overcome the cause of the unfairness.

Key Quotes, Poetic Technique(s) and Analysis1) "And mark in every face I meet/Marks of weakness, marks of woe"
Poetic Technique(s): Alliteration and Repetition
- The repetition of "mark" emphasizes the physical misery that London inhabitants display.
- The reader is forced to acknowledge incapability of physical damage caused by London. We too feel imprisoned by repetition perhaps.

2) "The mind-forged manacles I hear:"
Poetic Technique(s): Metaphor
- As a reader, we feel sympathy as the restrictions on freedom are caused by the mind.

3) "And blights with plagues the marriage hearse."
Poetic Technique(s): Juxtaposition
- This is a striking image for the reader as the two images "marriage" and "hearse" aren't normally associated with each other yet are placed together. We learn from the poem that London is a city of duplicity and a difficult environment in which to sustain happiness? Perhaps this is an attack on the church and the hypocrisy of the institution.

  • Regular ABAB rhyme scheme in each stanza, which is contained.
  • There's 8 syllables per line but it's written in iambic tetrameter throughout.
  • First Person

  • Power of humans
  • Poverty
  • Loss and absence
  • Memories
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The Prelude
The Poem
One summer evening (led by her) I found
A little boat tied to a willow tree
Within a rocky cave, its usual home.
Straight I unloosed her chain, and stepping in
Pushed from the shore. It was an act of stealth
And troubled pleasure, nor without the voice
Of mountain-echoes did my boat move on;
Leaving behind her still, on either side,
Small circles glittering idly in the moon,
Until they melted all into one track
Of sparkling light. But now, like one who rows,
Proud of his skill, to reach a chosen point
With an unswerving line, I fixed my view
Upon the summit of a craggy ridge,
The horizon's utmost boundary; far above
Was nothing but the stars and the grey sky.
She was an elfin pinnace; lustily
I dipped my oars into the silent lake,
And, as I rose upon the stroke, my boat
Went heaving through the water like a swan;
When, from behind that craggy steep till then
The horizon's bound, a huge peak, black and huge,
As if with voluntary power instinct,
Upreared its head. I struck and struck again
And growing still in stature the grim shape
Towered up between me and the stars, and still,
For so it seemed, with purpose of its own
And measured motion like a living thing,
Strode after me. With trembling oars I turned,
And through the silent water stole my way
Back to the covert of the willow tree;
There in her mooring-place I left my bark,--
And through the meadows homeward went, in grave
And serious mood; but after I had seen
That spectacle, for many days, my brain
Worked with a dim and undetermined sense
Of unknown modes of being; o'er my thoughts
There hung a darkness, call it solitude
Or blank desertion. No familiar shapes
Remained, no pleasant images of trees,
Of sea or sky, no colours of green fields;
But huge and mighty forms, that do not live
Like living men, moved slowly through the mind
By day, and were a trouble to my dreams.

Context of the Poet
  • He was born in 1770 and died in 1850.
  • He had a troubled relationship with his parents and relatives.
  • He embraced nature.
  • He was an early supporter of the French Revolution.
  • He was disillusioned with violence.
  • He was a Romantic poet.
  • He was a poet laureate.

Context of the Poem
  • It's part of a much larger poem on 'the growth of a poet's mind' - "the child is the father of the man": events in childhood shape us as adults.
  • An example of poetry of the Romantic movement - it's a revelation , on epiphany, an example of what Wordsworth called "spots of time".
  • The incident took place on Ullswater, in the Lake District where Wordsworth grew up - "The Boat Stealing Incident".

SynopsisThe poem shows the spiritual growth of the poet, how he comes to terms with who he is, and his place in nature and the world.

Title Analysis
  • "Prelude" suggests introduction, which implies this is just the beginning of the incite to nature he's gonna give us
  • Prelude is also quite a soft word, which contrasts to how nature is presented in the poem.

Key Quotes, Poetic Technique(s) and Analysis1) "Straight I unloosed her chain"
Poetic Technique(s): Effective Language

2) "lustily/I dipped my oars into the silent lake"
Poetic Technique(s): Juxtaposition/Contrast
- It reflects the speaker's confidence and possible arrogance and excitement. This juxtaposes with the language later in the poem when the power of nature is realised.

3) "troubled pleasure"
Poetic Technique(s): Oxymoron
- It contains the paradox that the child feels: they're aware they have broken a social taboo, yet feel pleasure, and so are "troubled".

4) "trembling oars"
Poetic Technique(s): Juxtaposition/Contrast
- It reflects the speaker's fear and panic in the wake of the huge mountain he encounters. This juxtaposes with language earlier in the poem before the power of nature is realised.

  • Blank Verse
  • One long verse
  • Iambic Pentameter
  • First Person Narrative
  • Enjambment
  • Epic Poem

  • Power of nature
  • Memories
  • Fear
  • Pride
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My Last Duchess

The Poem

That’s my last Duchess painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now; Fra Pandolf’s hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
Will’t please you sit and look at her? I said
“Fra Pandolf” by design, for never read
Strangers like you that pictured countenance,
The depth and passion of its earnest glance,
But to myself they turned (since none puts by
The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)
And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,
How such a glance came there; so, not the first
Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, ’twas not
Her husband’s presence only, called that spot
Of joy into the Duchess’ cheek; perhaps
Fra Pandolf chanced to say, “Her mantle laps
Over my lady’s wrist too much,” or “Paint
Must never hope to reproduce the faint
Half-flush that dies along her throat.” Such stuff
Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough
For calling up that spot of joy. She had
A heart—how shall I say?— too soon made glad,
Too easily impressed; she liked whate’er
She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.
Sir, ’twas all one! My favour at her breast,
The dropping of the daylight in the West,
The bough of cherries some officious fool
Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule
She rode with round the terrace—all and each
Would draw from her alike the approving speech,
Or blush, at least. She thanked men—good! but thanked
Somehow—I know not how—as if she ranked
My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name
With anybody’s gift. Who’d stoop to blame
This sort of trifling? Even had you skill
In speech—which I have not—to make your will
Quite clear to such an one, and say, “Just this
Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss,
Or there exceed the mark”—and if she let
Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set
Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse—
E’en then would be some stooping; and I choose
Never to stoop. Oh, sir, she smiled, no doubt,
Whene’er I passed her; but who passed without
Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands;
Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands
As if alive. Will’t please you rise? We’ll meet
The company below, then. I repeat,
The Count your master’s known munificence
Is ample warrant that no just pretense
Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;
Though his fair daughter’s self, as I avowed
At starting, is my object. Nay, we’ll go
Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though,
Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity,
Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me!

Context for Poet
  • The poet was Robert Browning.
  • Browning was heavily influenced by his love of history, reading, art and European culture.
  • He was born in England but lived in Italy for many years. He was fascinated by the Italian Renaissance (14th – 16th Centuries) when arts flourished.
  • Browning was a romanticist (writes poetry about romance)

Context for Poem
  • My Last Duchess was published in 1842.
  • Duke Alfonso II (the Duke speaking in the poem) married Lucrezia de’ Medici when she was age 14. She died age 17, suspected by food poisoning.
  • Frà Pandolf (mentioned in the poem) was a great painter. This meant that the Duke must be rich to be able to pay for him to paint his Duchess’s.
  • “Ferrara” is a region in Italy.
  • The poem is set in 1564, 3 years after the Duchess’s death. He hints at her unfaithfulness, suggesting he might have killed her due to this.
  • The Duke is arrogant, jealous and has skewed morals, for example, he believes with gifts it is not the thought that counts.

  • In this dramatic monologue the speaker ,The Duke, proudly points out a portrait of the Duchess to a visitor. The Duke was angered by her behaviour which made him jealous. He says she was too friendly towards others and that her flirtatious behaviour was disrespectful towards him and his family name,
  • He hints that he took steps to have her murdered.
  • The guest and the Duke walk away from the painting and we learn that the visitor has come to arrange the Duke’s next marriage.
  • It's widely regarded that the person the Duke is talking to for the duration of this poem is an equerry from a nobleman who is looking for a potential husband for his daughter. So the Duke is trying to convince this stranger that he would be a suitable husband. I think this is quite interesting to be honest.

Title analysis
  • My Last Duchess. Together the words seem innocent but if you break them down it can seem menacing.
  • The word "My" suggests that the Duke feels that he owns the Duchess and has all control over her.
  • "Last" implies that he has had many, and moves on quickly from each one to a new Duchess. This depicts that he doesn't especially care for them and swaps them as if a toddler playing with toys.
  • "Duchess" doesn't have any immediately negative connotations but the fact he thinks it is more important to call his wife by her title than a personal name chosen for her implies he really doesn't care.

Key Quotes, Poetic Techniques and Analysis
  • "The curtain I have drawn for you"
    Poetic technique(s): metaphor
    - This implies the Duke is hiding something since he puts it behind a curtain making it hidden from public view.
    - Conversely, he obviously still cares to some extent about his last Duchess as he drew the curtain for her.
  • "as if she ranked/ My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name/ With anybody's gift"
    Poetic technique(s): enjambment
    - The Duke clearly does not appreciate with gifts that it is the thought that counts. This implies he is very prideful and self righteous.
    - "My" also depicts he thinks he is above all others, especially in regard to "his Duchess".
  • "I gave commands;/ Then all smiles stopped together"
    Poetic technique(s): imperative, alliteration, double meaning
    - "Commands" could have three possible meanings in this context. It could be he commanded his wife to stop smiling, or the men to stop smiling at his wife, or finally that he ordered her death.
    - "Stopped" could also apply to the Duchess's heart beat, or her control (of which she had very little before anyway)
  • "my object"
    Poetic technique(s): Objectification, metaphor
    - The Duke is very possessive over the Duchess, even now she has died.
    - He believes he has always, and should always, have complete control over her as he doesn't see anything wrong with his actions.
  • Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me!”
    Poetic technique(s): naming of persons
    - Claus is an artist who made the Duke a statue of Neptune made of bronze
    - Bronze could symbolise his old wife, bronze is cheap and can be replaced easily just like how he can replace his wife easily
    - The statue (no emotions and smiles) can also symbolise his old wife as the Duke wanted total control so he told her what to do regardless of whether or not she agreed with it.

Structure and Form
  • 1 long stanza
  • A dramatic monologue
  • Rhyming couplets although much of the rhyme is lost through the rhythm variations
  • Written in iambic pentameter
  • The use of caesura and enjambment shows the power of the Duke controlling the Duchess by stopping and starting the rhythm as he pleases.
  • It follows a similar structure to much of Browning's other poetry, with the single stanza, rhyming couplets pairing.

  • Jealousy
  • Pride
  • Power of Humans
  • Memories
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Charge of the Light Brigade

The Poem
Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
"Forward, the Light Brigade!
"Charge for the guns!" he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

"Forward, the Light Brigade!"
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Someone had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

Flash'd all their sabres bare,
Flash'd as they turn'd in air,
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wonder'd:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro' the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel'd from the sabre stroke
Shatter'd and sunder'd.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro' the jaws of Death
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honour the charge they made,
Honour the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred.

Context for Poet
  • Tennyson was the Poet Laureate (official poet for the country) from 1850-1892.
  • This meant he had to portray events as those in power wanted them to be portrayed.
  • Tennyson wrote "The Charge of the Light Brigade" in a few minutes on December 2, 1854.

Context for Poem
  • The Battle of Balaclava took place as part of the Crimean War, which took place between 1853 and 1856. The war was Imperial Russia against an alliance including France and England.
  • In this battle, only a single General was aware of the multiple sets of Russian batteries, which left the 600 soldiers running into death.
  • Since soldiers were unable to question their seniors, everything went ahead, causing great loss of life for a preventable reason.
  • On 25 October 1854, Lord Raglan decided to attack the Russians. He sent an order but it was fatally misinterpreted and 673 Light Brigade cavalrymen were sent charging down the valley with Russian guns all around. Between 100 and 200 soldiers are thought to have died.

  • A battle where only one general knew there were more batteries of guns than they had planned for.
  • Soldiers are not allowed to question orders so they obeyed and rode into their deathbed, fighting for their country, with the only little success they had in the battle being breaking through the front line.

Title analysis
  • The light brigade was the name of the group of soldiers who were doing into battle. It's the equivalent of a battalion or a regiment in the present day, although brigade is still a lesser used term.
  • "Light" is a metaphor for all the honour and glory they are shining in by the end of the battle for persevering and to those who came out, surviving for another day
  • "Charge" has a double meaning also, as it suggests the run they took into battle, and also the cost of the battle (in lives).

Key Quotes, Poetic Techniques and Analysis
  • " the left/right/front/behind (of) them"
    Poetic Technique(s): Anaphora, repetition
    -This shows that they are surrounded due to the incompetence of the generals
    -The repetition shows repeated failure, but also the volume of cannons surrounding the troops, intimidating them and leaving many dead (caused by repeated blasting of the cannons)
  • "Valley of Death", "Mouth of Hell" "Jaws of Death"
    Poetic Technique(s): metaphor, repetition
    -These phrases show how trapped the soldiers were in the fight, being unable to go against the general's orders without being shot.
    -The use of "mouth" and "jaws" reflect how it was verbal communication which failed the soldiers and caused the disaster.
    -"Valley" suggests a dip in the ground, which implies the soldiers falling, unable to escape out of the trap
  • "When can their glory fade?"
    Poetic Technique(s): rhetorical question
    -This shows that the soldiers were held in high regard for fighting for the country (patriotism)
    -It implies that the common soldier was more respected than the generals, most likely because more people could relate to them than the high class generals
  • "Noble six hundred"
    Poetic Technique(s): repetition
    -This line of praise is repeated throughout the poem depicts that the war was terrifying to the public, so to fight against the enemy was glorious and noble
    -The number of times it is repeated suggests that many, many people held this opinion since it was so often stated with confidence.

Structure and Form
  • Every other line rhymes
  • 6 stanzas, 5 with 8 lines and a final one with 6 lines
  • The shorter stanza could represent loss as it has less than the other stanzas

  • Death
  • Patriotism
  • Power (of those in control)
  • Conflict/Battle
  • Loss
  • Identity
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The Poem
Our brains ache, in the merciless iced east winds that knife us...
Wearied we keep awake because the night is silent...
Low drooping flares confuse our memory of the salient...
Worried by silence, sentries whisper, curious, nervous,
But nothing happens.

Watching, we hear the mad gusts tugging on the wire.
Like twitching agonies of men among its brambles.
Northward incessantly, the flickering gunnery rumbles,
Far off, like a dull rumour of some other war.
What are we doing here?

The poignant misery of dawn begins to grow...
We only know war lasts, rain soaks, and clouds sag stormy.
Dawn massing in the east her melancholy army
Attacks once more in ranks on shivering ranks of gray,
But nothing happens.

Sudden successive flights of bullets streak the silence.
Less deadly than the air that shudders black with snow,
With sidelong flowing flakes that flock, pause and renew,
We watch them wandering up and down the wind's nonchalance,
But nothing happens.

Pale flakes with lingering stealth come feeling for our faces -
We cringe in holes, back on forgotten dreams, and stare, snow-dazed,
Deep into grassier ditches. So we drowse, sun-dozed,
Littered with blossoms trickling where the blackbird fusses.
Is it that we are dying?

Slowly our ghosts drag home: glimpsing the sunk fires glozed
With crusted dark-red jewels; crickets jingle there;
For hours the innocent mice rejoice: the house is theirs;
Shutters and doors all closed: on us the doors are closed -
We turn back to our dying.

Since we believe not otherwise can kind fires burn;
Now ever suns smile true on child, or field, or fruit.
For God's invincible spring our love is made afraid;
Therefore, not loath, we lie out here; therefore were born,
For love of God seems dying.

To-night, His frost will fasten on this mud and us,
Shrivelling many hands and puckering foreheads crisp.
The burying-party, picks and shovels in their shaking grasp,
Pause over half-known faces. All their eyes are ice,
But nothing happens.

Context of the Poet
  • Owen was born in 1893 and died one week before the end of World War 1 (1918).
  • He joined the war in October 1915, but, after some traumatic events on the battlefields, he was sent to hospital to be treated for shell-shock.
  • His poems were famous for their vivid imagery and shocking truths about the reality of war.

Context of the Poem
  • The poem is set in World War One.
  • At the time of writing, one of the coldest winters in human history was occurring.
  • The poem is describing, within a microcosm, the battle of a soldier with nature.

SynopsisThe poem focuses on the misery felt by World War One soldiers waiting overnight in the trenches. Although nothing is happening and there is no fighting, there is still danger because they are exposed to the extreme cold and their wait through the night is terrifying.

Title Analysis
  • Exposure could be referring to many things. It could be literal, referring to the war and the bombs etc. it exposes soldiers to
  • It could also refer to the raw emotions it causes people to feel
  • Furthermore, it could be referring to nature itself

Key Quotes, Poetic Technique(s) and Analysis1) "Our brains ache, in the merciless iced east winds that knive/us..."
Poetic Technique(s): Personification
- The wind is personified as a murderer. The winds have no mercy and the soldiers feel as if they're being stabbed with cold. This is in contrast to being stabbed with real bayonets in a real battle. Their brains ache with both cold and possibly, the extreme fatigue, loneliness and despair that they all felt.

2) "Sudden successive flights of bullets streak the silence./Less deadly than the air that shudders black with snow,"
Poetic Technique(s): Alliteration (Sibilance) and Imagery
- The 's' sounds mimic the sounds of the bullets streaking through the air. Could also be sharp intakes of men in shock. Could also mimic the sound of shivering as these men are freezing to death.
- The bullets are described as "less deadly" than the snow. People at home in Britain would've been shocked to hear that their brave soldiers were killed by harsh conditions rather than combat. The image of the air "shuddering black" with snow contrasts with joyful images of Christmas back home in England.

3) "The burying-party,picks and shovels in shaking grasp,/Pause over half-known faces."
Poetic Technique(s): Effective Language
- The reader is presented with the image of these soldiers burying their own men. The "shaking grasp" could be because of the cold. It could also be the effects of post traumatic stress disorder (or "shell shock".
- The "half known" faces could refer to the fact that these men didn't know each other very well. Or maybe they no longer recognise each other.

  • The poem uses strange line-ends "Knive us/nervous", "Silent/sailent" these half rhymes provided a tight structure and provide the poem with a sombre mood.
  • The phrase "nothing happens" is repeated to emphasise the tedium of life in the trenches.The soldiers are more likely to be killed by the cold or insanity than the enemy itself.
  • As the poem progresses the men's suffering worsens and by the final stanza the soldiers are on the verge of death. They have lost all hope and abandoned their faith in God.
  • Stanzas five, six and seven end with "Is it that we are dying?" "We turn back to our dying." "For the love of God seems dying."
  • The poems shifts focus from the men themselves to their dreams and beliefs. By the end of the poem all three are broken.
  • The monotonous presentation of the structure represents the tedium of life in the trenches.

  • Reality of conflict
  • Loss and absence
  • Memories
  • Power of nature
  • Identity
Badges: 20
Report 4 years ago
Storm On the Island
The Poem
We are prepared: we build our houses squat,
Sink walls in rock and roof them with good slate.
The wizened earth had never troubled us
With hay, so as you can see, there are no stacks
Or stooks that can be lost. Nor are there trees
Which might prove company when it blows full
Blast: you know what I mean - leaves and branches
Can raise a chorus in a gale
So that you can listen to the thing you fear
Forgetting that it pummels your house too.
But there are no trees, no natural shelter.
You might think that the sea is company,
Exploding comfortably down on the cliffs
But no: when it begins, the flung spray hits
The very windows, spits like a tame cat
Turned savage. We just sit tight while wind dives
And strafes invisibly. Space is a salvo.
We are bombarded by the empty air.
Strange, it is a huge nothing that we fear.

Context for Poet
  • Heaney's father was a farmer in rural Country Derry
  • Heaney's poetry is about the countryside and farm life of his childhood.
  • Heaney spent a lot of his time alone and isolated from others

Context for Poem
  • The second part of the twentieth century was a political storm in Northern Island
  • Nicknamed "The troubles" there was violence and war as people rioted and fought for what they thought was right

  • The poem describes the extreme force of nature and the impact that the elements have on island life.
  • The island's occupants adapt to the demands nature places on their homes and jobs.
  • The beginning of poem suggests readiness for the storm but as it goes on we see more violent language describing weather and war-like imagery.

Title Analysis
  • Storm on the Island could be a metaphor for the political storm that raged across Northern Ireland in the second half of the twentieth century. The storm pummelling the island in the poem could represent the violence in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.

Key Quotes, Poetic Techniques and Analysis
  • The sea is described as "exploding comfortably"
    Poetic technique(s): oxymoron
    Striking and unusual description for the reader as it seems contradictory. Suggests this is something that it has done before and will do again. Appeals to senses as this is something we can visualise and imagine the sound of.
  • "the flung spray hits/The very windows, spits like a tame cat/Turned savage"
    Poetic technique(s): simile
    The sea is uncontrollable, unpredictable. Wild like a cat.
  • "We are bombarded by the empty air"
    Poetic technique(s): Image of combat. Powerful, violent verb "bombard"
    Attacked by a threat that cannot be seen. Reinforces unpredictability of attacks and powerlessness to defend against the elements.

  • The poem is written as a single stanza, which implies the conflict was relentless and had no breaks.
  • The lack of a rhyme scheme suggests the battle was unpredictable at every turn.
  • The use of enjambment and caesura throughout depicts that someone had the upper hand and was controlling the conflict with outside force

  • Effects of conflict
  • Memories
  • Power of nature
  • Power of humans
  • Fear
Badges: 21
Report Thread starter 4 years ago
Bayonet Charge
The Poem
Suddenly he awoke and was running- raw
In raw-seamed hot khaki, his sweat heavy,
Stumbling across a field of clods towards a green hedge
That dazzled with rifle fire, hearing
Bullets smacking the belly out of the air -
He lugged a rifle numb as a smashed arm;
The patriotic tear that had brimmed in his eye
Sweating like molten iron from the centre of his chest, -

In bewilderment then he almost stopped -
In what cold clockwork of the stars and the nations
Was he the hand pointing that second? He was running
Like a man who has jumped up in the dark and runs
Listening between his footfalls for the reason
Of his still running, and his foot hung like
Statuary in mid-stride. Then the shot-slashed furrows

Threw up a yellow hare that rolled like a flame
And crawled in a threshing circle, its mouth wide
Open silent, its eyes standing out.
He plunged past with his bayonet toward the green hedge,
King, honour, human dignity, etcetera
Dropped like luxuries in a yelling alarm
To get out of that blue crackling air
His terror’s touchy dynamite.

Context for Poet
  • Hughes was the government’s designated poetry writer from 1984.
  • He served in the RAF for two years
  • The themes of the countryside, human history and mythology already deeply influenced his imagination by the time he started writing poetry as a student.

Context for Poem
  • The poem describes the experience of 'going over-the-top'. This was when soldiers hiding in trenches were ordered to 'fix bayonets' (attach the long knives to the end of their rifles) and climb out of the trenches to charge an enemy position twenty or thirty metres away. The aim was to capture the enemy trench, and advance the frontline.
  • The poem describes how this process transforms a solider from a living thinking person into a dangerous weapon of war.

  • This poem follows the journey of a single soldier as he goes from sleeping in a camp to running either from or towards a sudden battle.
  • The poet emphasises the soldier’s terror, shock and confusion at finding himself in such a horrific scene.
  • Much of the poem’s imagery centres on the destruction of the once peaceful and natural scene of a green field.
  • The poet questions the idea of blind patriotism as this soldier questions what his purpose in this war really is.

Title analysis
  • The title is quite literal, as the poem is about the speed necessary to fix the bayonets on and attempt to move forward the front line
  • "Bayonet" reflects the risks involved with such dangerous weapons being used

Key Quotes, Poetic Techniques and Analysis
  • "dazzled with rifle fire"
    Poetic technique(s): metaphor
    -"Dazzled" has many potential meanings. It could be implying the soldier is shocked by rifle fire, finding it a horrible situation, not at all similar to the amazement promised, however it could equally suggest the soldier is amazed by the bright shining fire all around him and the destruction it causes
    -The dazzling shows how it stands out in the memory of the conflict, reflecting in the light, conversely to how it is reflected in his mine-a scene of death
  • "patriotic tear"
    Poetic technique(s): metaphor
    -The feeling of patriotism reflects the general feeling especially at the beginning of the war of sticking together for an international adventure
    -"Tear" could imply regret at the eagerness to fight and leave their family behind, or it could equally suggest that lives were torn away before them as they tried to advance, and symbolise the tears wept for their sacrifice.
    -Similarly, "tear" could depict the world being torn down around them creating new memories which would be stuck in their mind forever.
  • "King, honour, human dignity etcetera"
    Poetic techniques: asyndetic listing
    -This list is contains reasons why the soldiers may have gone to war originally, and why they are determined to continue fighting for what it right
    -"etcetera" implies there are endless reasons, although it also could relate to the length of the war, and how the frontlines were stretched for miles and miles with little progress from either side for significant lengths of time
  • "terror's touchy dynamite"
    Poetic technique(s): alliteration, metaphor
    -The use of "terror" implies that the danger is never over for the soldier-as we expect the poem to finish, it continues with it's most destructing line.
    -"Dynamite" shows an explosion waiting to happen, set off as quick as a switch with endless devastation

Structure and Form
  • 3 stanzas
  • Enjambment shows the lack of control, confusion and pace which the soldier is moving at.
  • The lack of a rhyme scheme shows the constantly changing environment around the soldiers, and how they continue to fight on whatever the circumstances.

  • Conflict
  • Energy
  • Negative emotions-fear
  • Patriotism
Badges: 20
Report 4 years ago

The Poem
On another occasion, we got sent out
to tackle looters raiding a bank.
And one of them legs it up the road,
probably armed, possibly not.

Well myself and somebody else and somebody else
are all of the same mind,
so all three of us open fire.
Three of a kind all letting fly, and I swear

I see every round as it rips through his life –
I see broad daylight on the other side.
So we’ve hit this looter a dozen times
and he’s there on the ground, sort of inside out,

pain itself, the image of agony.
One of my mates goes by
and tosses his guts back into his body.
Then he’s carted off in the back of a lorry.

End of story, except not really.
His blood-shadow stays on the street, and out on patrol
I walk right over it week after week.
Then I’m home on leave. But I blink

and he bursts again through the doors of the bank.
Sleep, and he’s probably armed, and possibly not.
Dream, and he’s torn apart by a dozen rounds.
And the drink and the drugs won’t flush him out –

he’s here in my head when I close my eyes,
dug in behind enemy lines,
not left for dead in some distant, sun-stunned, sand-smothered land
or six-feet-under in desert sand,

but near to the knuckle, here and now,
his bloody life in my bloody hands.

Context for Poet
  • Armitage suffered from PTSD (shell shock), and this poem was one out of a series about it.
  • Simon Armitage’s poetry is known for its colloquial style, strong rhythms and voice.
  • He deals with personal relationships, often drawing on his own life experience.
  • Armitage often uses the monologue form in his poetry to create immediate and moving characters. His delivery is deadpan and sometimes darkly humorous.

Context for Poem
  • This poem is part of a small collection of poems written for "the Not Dead". This term refers to the ex-servicemen and women who have survived wars and are now dealing with its after-effects. Each of these poems focuses on a flashback scene that the ex-soldier has struggled to forget.
  • "Remains" was written for a soldier who served in Basra, Iraq.
  • Based on Gulf War true story about soldier who shot people who were innocent but wasn't sure know this from (possibly armed probably not).
  • Soldier turned to drugs and crime after coming back as he felt a lot guilt and still had the mindset that he was still at war
  • Armitage’s poem influenced channel 4 to do a documentary on it.

  • Written in first person from the perspective of a solider, this poem can be seen as having two halves.
  • In the first, the voice recounts a memory from war in which he and two other soldiers killed looters raiding a bank.
  • In the second, he explains how the memory of this scene still haunts him. There is a suggestion that he is suffering from PTSD.
  • The voice of this narrator is powerful as he moves from past to present tense (giving his memories a sense of immediacy) and uses colloquial language. His ordinary tone and use of colloquialisms, bring these horrors closer to the reader, as they are told in this very everyday, ordinary voice. This makes his mental scars more painful for the reader.

Title Analysis
  • Remains could be taken in many ways. For example, it could be talking about the remains of the soldier's confidence and stability.
  • Along a similar line it could be talking about how much PTSD has taken away from their life; with not much remaining
  • In contrast, it could be referring to how little was left in the battle field, only the blood remains

Key Quotes, Poetic Techniques and Analysis
  • "one of them legs it up the road"
    Poetic Technique(s): colloquial language
    This use of colloquial language, which occurs mainly in the first half of the poem, makes the description of killing seem casual. In the second half, the tone is less casual as he explains his memories and how "the drugs won't flush him out". The use of imagery here shows his tortured mind.
  • "every round as it rips through his life"
    Poetic Technique(s): Alliteration of the "r" sound
    The harsh "r" sound reflects the violence of the image. It portrays his memory more vividly as it seems to bring it to life through the sound.
  • "his bloody life in my bloody hands"
    Poetic Technique(s): metaphor
    The repetition of "bloody" shows us that this memory of death keeps returning. It also suggests that his tortured memories of war are flooded with guilt for taking the man's life, making the reader sympathise with him.

  • The change in the final stanza from a regular 4 line structure, to a couplet implies that the soldier's life is forever changed and there is no longer any predictability
  • The general use of simple 4 line stanzas suggest nothing abnormal is happening, which suggests conflict and death are both very normal occurrences in such situation, which would be shocking to the reader
  • The present tense is used throughout the poem, despite the event obviously being in the past, which suggests the soldier cannot move past it and is trapped in this moment.

  • Memories
  • Effects of conflict
  • Reality of conflict
Badges: 21
Report Thread starter 4 years ago

The Poem
Three days before Armistice Sunday
and poppies had already been placed
on individual war graves. Before you left,
I pinned one onto your lapel, crimped petals,
spasms of paper red, disrupting a blockade
of yellow bias binding around your blazer.

Sellotape bandaged around my hand,
I rounded up as many white cat hairs
as I could, smoothed down your shirt's
upturned collar, steeled the softening
of my face. I wanted to graze my nose
across the tip of your nose, play at
being Eskimos like we did when
you were little. I resisted the impulse
to run my fingers through the gelled
blackthorns of your hair. All my words
flattened, rolled, turned into felt,

slowly melting. I was brave, as I walked
with you, to the front door, threw
it open, the world overflowing
like a treasure chest. A split second
and you were away, intoxicated.
After you'd gone I went into your bedroom,
released a song bird from its cage.
Later a single dove flew from the pear tree,
and this is where it has led me,
skirting the church yard walls, my stomach busy
making tucks, darts, pleats, hat-less, without
a winter coat or reinforcements of scarf, gloves.

On reaching the top of the hill I traced
the inscriptions on the war memorial,
leaned against it like a wishbone.
The dove pulled freely against the sky,
an ornamental stitch, I listened, hoping to hear
your playground voice catching on the wind.

Context for Poet
  • Weir grew up in Italy and England, experiencing many different cultures.
  • She also experienced the 1980s conflict in Northern Ireland.

Context for Poem
  • The poem is set in the present day but reaches right back to the beginning of the Poppy Day tradition. Armistice Sunday began as a way of marking the end of the First World War in 1918. It was set up so people could remember the hundreds and thousands of ordinary men who had been killed in the First World War. Today, the event is used to remember soldiers of all wars who have died since then.
  • When Poppies was written, British soldiers were still dying in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a way of trying to understand the suffering that deaths caused, the poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy asked a number of writers to compose poems, including Jane Weir.

  • A parent has lost their child in war.
  • They mourn the times when the child was young, carefree and innocent.
  • They are fragile, but they hold themself together while they think their child is watching their reaction.

Title analysis
  • The poem links right back to the beginnings of Armistice Sunday, with the poppies in Flanders's fields being uses to remember soldiers of all wars.
  • Poppies directly links to this tradition, and the memory of all those soldiers who sacrificed their lives for ours.

Key Quotes, Poetic Techniques and Analysis
  • "the world overflowing/ like a treasure chest"
    Poetic technique(s): metaphor
    - This is a metaphor for the grief that the mother feels having lost her son to war
    - "Treasure" shows how valuable life is, but also implies that the world is full of life while she has lost her son who meant the world to her, so life is fragile.
  • "single dove flew"
    Poetic technique(s): imagery, metaphor
    - Doves represent peace, which as it "flew" suggests that peace is no longer present, and instead war and grief fill the world
    - "Single" implies that peace is being driven out little by little (one by one), and there is only low levels of peace left to share around.
  • "like a wishbone"
    Poetic technique(s): simile
    - "wish" implies that this is the last hope they have, the hope for his safety
    - wishbones on a chicken are fragile, which depicts that the life of any soldier is fragile and can slip away at any moment
  • "ornamental stitch"
    Poetic technique(s): simile
    - "Stitch" shows that it is the last thing holding together the core relationship between the mother and her son
    - It is clearly small and beautiful, as the son would be to the mother, which implies that they will forever cherish each other and be each other's strength even once one has gone from their present world.

Structure and Form
  • The stanzas are different lengths which makes them unpredictable, apart from the final stanza which is the same length as the first, making it predictable (war causes loss).
  • Caesuras throughout the poem show the varied emotions of the narrator, and also brings the reader a slight sense of security, before breaking the confidence, which could be a metaphor for how peace times are shattered by war.
  • The lack of a rhyme scheme suggests everything in the world has been changed by war to make it unrecognisable to those who have memories of the time before the loss and sadness.

  • Loss
  • Memory
  • War/Conflict
Badges: 20
Report 4 years ago
War Photographer

The Poem
In his dark room he is finally alone
with spools of suffering set out in ordered rows.
The only light is red and softly glows,
as though this were a church and he
a priest preparing to intone a Mass.
Belfast. Beirut. Phnom Penh. All flesh is grass.

He has a job to do. Solutions slop in trays
beneath his hands, which did not tremble then
though seem to now. Rural England. Home again
to ordinary pain which simple weather can dispel,
to fields which don’t explode beneath the feet
of running children in a nightmare heat.

Something is happening. A stranger’s features
faintly start to twist before his eyes,
a half-formed ghost. He remembers the cries
of this man’s wife, how he sought approval
without words to do what someone must
and how the blood stained into foreign dust.

A hundred agonies in black and white
from which his editor will pick out five or six
for Sunday’s supplement. The reader’s eyeballs prick
with tears between the bath and pre-lunch beers.
From the aeroplane he stares impassively at where
he earns his living and they do not care.

Context for Poet
  • The poem comes from Duffy’s friendship with Don McCullin and Philip Jones Griffiths, two well-respected photographers who specialised in war photography.
  • Duffy is fascinated by what makes someone do such a job, and how they feel about being in situations where a choice often has to be made between recording horrific events and helping.

Context for Poem
  • The war photographer's role contains many difficulties, many of which are revealed within the poem.
  • By the end of the poem, it is clear her subject straddles two vastly different worlds yet increasingly feels he belongs to neither.

  • Written in third person, the poem describes a photographer in his darkroom as he develops prints from his latest job in the field.
  • As the images which slop in his trays emerge, he is filled horror at the memories of the violent scenes he has witnessed and photographed.
  • His hands shake, as Duffy uses powerful imagery and effective contrast to explore not only the conflict in war but the conflict within himself, and in the wider world of media reporting.

Title Analysis
  • War Photographer is a very straight title, describing exactly what the poem explains
  • The "straight talking" title has little emotion, which is something the war photographers must avoid while on the battle field.

Key Quotes, Poetic Techniques and Analysis
  • "spools of suffering set out in ordered rows"
    Poetic Technique(s): sibilance and metaphor
    The use of sibilance highlights this image, which creates a suggestion of graves or bodies ‘in ordered rows’. There is also contrast in this image: ‘spools of suffering’ which seems chaotic yet in ‘ordered rows’.
  • "tears between the bath and pre-lunch beers"
    Poetic technique(s): internal rhyme
    Duffy uses internal rhyme in this poem in a few places, possibly as a way of exploring the war photographer’s internal feelings of conflict.

    Here we see how, for the newspaper readers, seeing these images only affects them for a short while and their lives continue as normal, unlike the victims of war.
  • "A hundred agonies in black-and-white"
    Poetic technique(s): colour imagery, metaphor
    The scenes in his negatives are compared to ‘agonies’, a powerful noun to tell us about the pain of conflict. Because they are in ‘black-and-white’ they have been made to seem merely factual or simplified. She seems to be suggesting that their pain is not given enough recognition.

  • Written in four stanzas, each of six lines (sestet) with a regular rhyme scheme, this poem seems to be imposing order into the chaotic world of war that the war photographer works in.
  • The regularity of the rhyme scheme is important to show how the photographer must work methodically to produce what the editors want, avoiding all emotion
  • The enjambment and caesura are used to show how the photographer cannot choose to stop and help a brave soldier, but instead must do exactly as the editors want

  • Reality of conflict
  • Effects of conflict
  • Power of humans
  • Memories
  • Loss
Badges: 20
Report 4 years ago

The Poem
Paper that lets the light
shine through, this
is what could alter things.
Paper thinned by age or touching,

the kind you find in well-used books,
the back of the Koran, where a hand
has written in the names and histories,
who was born to whom,

the height and weight, who
died where and how, on which sepia date,
pages smoothed and stroked and turned
transparent with attention.

If buildings were paper, I might
feel their drift, see how easily
they fall away on a sigh, a shift
in the direction of the wind.

Maps too. The sun shines through
their borderlines, the marks
that rivers make, roads,
railtracks, mountainfolds,

Fine slips from grocery shops
that say how much was sold
and what was paid by credit card
might fly our lives like paper kites.

An architect could use all this,
place layer over layer, luminous
script over numbers over line,
and never wish to build again with brick

or block, but let the daylight break
through capitals and monoliths,
through the shapes that pride can make,
find a way to trace a grand design

with living tissue, raise a structure
never meant to last,
of paper smoothed and stroked
and thinned to be transparent,

turned into your skin.

Context for Poet
  • Imtiaz Dharker (1954-) is a contemporary poet who was born in Pakistan and grew up in Scotland. She has written five collections of poetry and often deals with themes of identity, the role of women in contemporary society and the search for meaning.
  • In her other poems, Dharker has written about the way she values things which may seem to be trivial or easily lost or destroyed. This poem is about the possible power of something as thin and fragile as paper.

Context for Poem
  • The issue of identity is one that faces many people within your life
  • Pakistan faced many identity issues after being granted independence from the British Empire. For example, people had different ideas of how to shape the culture of Pakistan and many other things.
  • Scotland also has had identity issues over the years.

  • The speaker in this poem uses paper as a metaphor for life. She considers how paper can 'alter things' and refers to the soft thin paper of religious books, in particular the Muslim holy book, The Qur'an.
  • There are also real-life references to other lasting uses we have for paper in our lives such as maps, receipts and architect drawings. Each of these items is connected to important aspects of life: journeys, money, and home all show how paper maps out our lives.
  • In the final stages of the poem, she may be suggesting that the significance of human life will outlast the records we make of it on paper or in buildings. There is also a sense of the fragility of human life, and the fact that not everything can last.

Title Analysis
  • "Tissue" is an extended metaphor for life within the poem
  • It has many different connotations from the traditional tissue, to skin tissue and other things

Key Quotes, Poetic Techniques and Analysis
  • All of the references to paper through the poem, such as "fine slips" and "luminous scripts"
    Poetic Technique(s): extended metaphor
    Paper acts as a metaphor for life and the way we live it. It shows how paper can be so fragile yet be enormously powerful when it is used to convey information.
  • "might fly our lives like paper kites"
    Poetic Technique(s): simile
    The simile suggests that our lives are not always in our control, but more like kites being blown by the wind. Connotations include a lack of control but could be seen as a happy or childlike image.
  • "see how easily/they fall away on a sigh"
    Poetic Technique(s): enjambment
    The enjambment throughout the poem could show how time never stops and how it is impossible to properly keep track of things, with paper perhaps our best way of living on permanently. The fast pace could also create the effect of showing how difficult it is to keep track and organise our lives.

  • The regular structure within the poem shows how life just goes on and one, until the final one line stanza which implies at some point life will just stop
  • The irregular rhyme scheme and rhythm depicts life is unpredictable, similar to how if you drop a tissue from a height it is unpredictable how it will fall
  • The enjambment also adds to the flowing, delicate shape of the poem

  • Identity
  • Memories
  • Power
Badges: 21
Report Thread starter 4 years ago
The Emigrée
The Poem
There once was a country… I left it as a child
but my memory of it is sunlight-clear
for it seems I never saw it in that November
which, I am told, comes to the mildest city.
The worst news I receive of it cannot break
my original view, the bright, filled paperweight.
It may be at war, it may be sick with tyrants,
but I am branded by an impression of sunlight.

The white streets of that city, the graceful slopes
glow even clearer as time rolls its tanks
and the frontiers rise between us, close like waves.
That child’s vocabulary I carried here
like a hollow doll, opens and spills a grammar.
Soon I shall have every coloured molecule of it.
It may by now be a lie, banned by the state
but I can’t get it off my tongue. It tastes of sunlight.

I have no passport, there’s no way back at all
but my city comes to me in its own white plane.
It lies down in front of me, docile as paper;
I comb its hair and love its shining eyes.
My city takes me dancing through the city
of walls. They accuse me of absence, they circle me.
They accuse me of being dark in their free city.
My city hides behind me. They mutter death,
and my shadow falls as evidence of sunlight.

Context for Poet
  • Rumens actually has nothing with the context of the poem really but was interested in the people who had to be sent away from their family and home/country due to war.
  • Rumens was said to have a “fascination” of “being elsewhere”
  • This poem is from Rumens’s 1993 collection Thinking of Skins.

Context for Poem
  • The city is never specified, and it could be any one of many places throughout history where people have had to go into exile because of a change of regime or natural disaster—recent examples might be Tehran, Damascus, Aleppo, Beirut, Baghdad.
  • The memories show the city in a positive light, despite it now banning her language, and potentially under control of a dictator.

  • The speaker is an adult living in exile looking back at the city in which they spent their childhood.
  • Despite their understanding that ‘it may be sick with tyrants’, the speaker cannot but see it as a good place—they are ‘branded by an impression of sunlight’, even though it is unattainable—perhaps because it never existed.

Title analysis
  • The word “Emigrée” is the french word for emigration.
  • As it has the "e" on the end of the word, it also means it is a female immigrant.

Key Quotes, Poetic Techniques and Analysis
  • "branded with an impression of sunlight"
    Poetic technique(s): metaphor
    - Sunlight is a metaphor for positivity and the happiness that the speaker had as a child living there
    - "Impression" implies that deep down they know that the whole experience wasn't positive
  • "hollow doll"
    Poetic technique(s):metaphor
    - This could represent Matryoshka Nesting Dolls (wooden dolls with smaller and smaller dolls stacking inside the large one), which implies a childhood innocence as all they saw were the happy memories, not the depth of things hidden underneath (such as the danger they might have been in)
    - "hollow" suggests empty or lost, which could be how the speaker views themselves now they have lost the identity of this country.
  • "They accuse me of absence"
    Poetic technique(s): metaphor
    - This suggests the shadows are drawing in "accusing" the speaker of abandoning their identity and childhood
    - The fact the speaker can relate all of this implies they may be homesick even though they acknowledge "there's no way back at all". It depicts that they are not happy where they are and despite the danger they wish they could return.
  • "My shadow falls as evidence of sunlight
    Poetic technique(s): imagery
    - The poem ends positively, as if the speaker does not wish to admit that there were problems with the country, but instead believe is was entirely bright and happy
    - Despite this, the fact there is a shadow suggests that they know not everything was safe and light and safety could not be everywhere to protect them so the best decision was made.

Structure and Form
  • The poem has 3 stanzas, the first two of which have 8 lines and the last of which has 9 lines, which implies the speaker is trying to hold on to all the memories they can of their childhood.
  • There is no rhyme scheme, which implies that the speaker is unsettled in their new country even though it is safer.

  • Loss
  • Identity
  • Memory
Badges: 20
Report 4 years ago
Checking Out Me History

The Poem
Dem tell me
Dem tell me
Wha dem want to tell me

Bandage up me eye with me own history
Blind me to me own identity

Dem tell me bout 1066 and all dat
dem tell me bout **** Whittington and he cat
But Toussaint L’Ouverture
no dem never tell me bout dat

a slave
with vision
lick back
and first Black
Republic born
Toussaint de thorn
to de French
Toussaint de beacon
of de Haitian Revolution

Dem tell me bout de man who discover de balloon
and de cow who jump over de moon
Dem tell me bout de dish ran away with de spoon
but dem never tell me bout Nanny de maroon

see-far woman
of mountain dream
fire-woman struggle
hopeful stream
to freedom river

Dem tell me bout Lord Nelson and Waterloo
but dem never tell me bout Shaka de great Zulu
Dem tell me bout Columbus and 1492
but what happen to de Caribs and de Arawaks too

Dem tell me bout Florence Nightingale and she lamp
and how Robin Hood used to camp
Dem tell me bout ole King Cole was a merry ole soul
but dem never tell me bout Mary Seacole

From Jamaica
she travel far
to the Crimean War
she volunteer to go
and even when de British said no
she still brave the Russian snow
a healing star
among the wounded
a yellow sunrise
to the dying

Dem tell me
Dem tell me wha dem want to tell me
But now I checking out me own history
I carving out me identity

Context for Poet
  • John Agard was born in Guyana, a Caribbean country in South America, but he moved to Britain in 1977.
  • His poetry often examines cultures and identities
  • Agard was black, and was trying to portray the message that the white government were preventing blacks from learning about people from their ancestors, in favour of those who were white performing similar feats
  • His Caribbean heritage made him aware of blacks who were heroic and changed lives but were not taught about in the British education system which made him angry
  • He challenges the white education system and its bias view towards history
  • He uses his phonetic language to feel closer to his heritage emphasising it to the reader while also being proud of the way he speaks the phonetic language making us also speak like this making us a part of the writers culture

Context for Poem
  • This poem was written in 2007
  • The education system in all years has been largely decided by the British government (who have a majority of white middle-upper class men) for many years

  • In this poem, the speaker is talking about his identity and how it links to his knowledge of history. He was taught British History at school but not about his Caribbean roots. He lists famous figures from history and questions why he has no knowledge of those from other cultures who did great things.
  • In the poem he mentions men and women from other cultures who should be remembered and celebrated and he concludes by saying he is going to create his own identity based on his heritage.

Title Analysis
  • The use of colloquial language is used to make the reader feel closer to the writer's culture and the point he is making
  • The incorrect grammar suggests he is breaking the mould for how English is usually spoken to show how unhappy he is at being controlled

Key Quotes, Poetic Techniques and Analysis
  • "Dem tell me"
    Poetic Technique(s): repetition and phonetic spelling of his Caribbean accent
    The repetition of ‘Dem’ emphasises the separation the speaker feels between the British education system and himself. The use of the phonetic spelling supports this as it creates a sense of the speaker’s voice and suggests he feels pride in his heritage and background.
  • "Bandage up me eye with me own history/Blind me to me own identity"
    Poetic Technique(s): imagery, metaphors
    The use of the noun ‘bandage’ here is ironic as bandages are associated with healing but here, it has been used to prevent him from seeing his own history and identity. It makes the attempt to prevent him from seeing his identity seem deliberate. The fact he is them ‘blinded’ emphasises this and suggests a long-lasting effect.
  • "Dem tell me about Lord Nelson and Waterloo, but dem never tell me about Shaka de great zulu"
    Poetic Technique(s): contrasts British historical figures from other cultures
    The contrasts between the historical figures emphasises the differences between them. The British figures are glossed over quickly whereas those from other cultures are explored in more detail, showing the poet feels they deserve more respect.

  • The irregular form when talking about the historical black figures show how wants to reform poetry just like he wants to reform the history curriculum
  • Contrasting to that, the standard form of the bits about white history show how generic and boring it is in comparison to the "unpredictable" history of black heroes (since few know about it)
  • The repetition throughout suggests that the message needs hammering home so that people take notice

  • Identity
  • Memories
  • Power of humans
Badges: 21
Report Thread starter 4 years ago
The Poem
Her father embarked at sunrise
with a flask of water, a samurai sword
in the cockpit, a shaven head
full of powerful incantations
and enough fuel for a one-way
journey into history
but half way there, she thought,
recounting it later to her children,
he must have looked far down
at the little fishing boats
strung out like bunting
on a green-blue translucent sea
and beneath them, arcing in swathes
like a huge flag waved first one way
then the other in a figure of eight,
the dark shoals of fishes
flashing silver as their bellies
swivelled towards the sun
and remembered how he
and his brothers waiting on the shore
built cairns of pearl-grey pebbles
to see whose withstood longest
the turbulent inrush of breakers
bringing their father’s boat safe
– yes, grandfather’s boat – safe
to the shore, salt-sodden, awash
with cloud-marked mackerel,
black crabs, feathery prawns,
the loose silver of whitebait and once
a tuna, the dark prince, muscular, dangerous.
And though he came back
my mother never spoke again
in his presence, nor did she meet his eyes
and the neighbours too, they treated him
as though he no longer existed,
only we children still chattered and laughed
till gradually we too learned
to be silent, to live as though
he had never returned, that this
was no longer the father we loved.
And sometimes, she said, he must have wondered
which had been the better way to die.

Context for Poet
  • Beatrice Garland was born in Oxford in 1930 and she recalled being forces to read poetry at school if she misbehaved, but actually quite enjoying it.

Context for Poem
  • The poem was set in WWII, when Japanese suicide pilots were regularly trained.
  • The Japanese were “brainwashed” to believe that “it is sweet and honourable to die for one’s country” (Dulce et Decorum est pro patria mori).
  • A kamikaze pilot was one of these Japanese pilots who “defended the country” by going on suicide missions.
  • It links to social pressures which people feel throughout their lives from at school to in old age to make certain choices.

  • A father trains to be a suicide pilot for Japan.
  • He sets off on the journey but changes his mind and ends up coming back in disgrace.
  • The narrator contemplates how he made that decision and the result of it.

Title analysis
  • Kamikaze literally translates as "divine wind".
  • The pilots were brainwashed until they believed that it was the right thing to do to kill themselves through suicide missions for the country.

Key Quotes, Poetic Techniques and Analysis
  • "full of powerful incarnations"
    Poetic technique(s): metaphor
    - This implies that the pilot is under some form of spell which forced them to complete the mission. It shows the immense strength of this particular father that he was able to overcome it
    - This hints at the propaganda which the pilot would have been brainwashed with until he truly believed "it is sweet and honourable to die for one's country."
  • "little fishing boats/ strung out like bunting"
    Poetic technique(s): enjambment, irony
    - This is ironic, as it is the small things that catches the pilot's attention rather than the large, daunting target and mission which should be ahead of him
    - "bunting" implies a celebration, which is also ironic as he is celebrated for going on this mission, but by returning he throws all that away.
  • "figure of eight"
    Poetic technique(s):
    - The figure 8 is continuous, which suggests the exposure to the propaganda was non stop and difficult to resist within the circles.
    - This shows the turning point for the pilot as he felt the need to turn around and fought against the brainwashing.
  • "We too learned/ to be silent"
    Poetic technique(s): enjambment
    - This suggests that as the children grew up they understood why he was treated "as though he no longer existed", which implies that they themselves are being brainwashed with propaganda.
    - The change in the children from "chattered and laughed" to "silent" also symbolises the juxtaposition in the pilot's beliefs from when he went out on the mission, to when he returned, finally recognising the correct thing to do.

Structure and Form
  • 7 stanzas with the final 2 in italics.
  • Each stanza has 6 lines, which allows the story to be told simply without the structure getting in the way
  • There is only three pieces of significant punctuation, which implies that the decision was impulsive, and that the pilot did not stop to think of the consequences of returning from the "suicide mission."

  • Conflict (mental conflict)
  • Patriotism
  • Power of nature
Badges: 21
Report Thread starter 4 years ago

Other Resources
This guide shouldn't be your only source for revision. Below are a list of sites which can also be used (many of which were used to compile this guide). We would also recommend you refer to your notes from lessons in your poetry anthology, from your teacher and any revision guides you may have.
A wonderful resource with plenty of analysis, and some comparisons.
BBC bitesize pages:
Extract from, The Prelude
My Last Duchess
Charge of the Light Brigade
Storm on the Island
Bayonet Charge
War Photographer
The Emigrée
Checking Out Me History

Other sites:
Many of the Poems (aimed at the old specification, but many of the poems are the same but under different sections of the anthology if you look )

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