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Power and Conflict Poetry - Language
Terms in this set (15)
Remains by Simon Armitage
-"Remains" - the images and suffering remain.
-"Legs it up the road" - colloquial language = authentic
-"Then he's carted off in the back of a lorry" -
reduction of humanity to waste or cattle
-"he's here in my head when I close my eyes / dug in
behind enemy lines" - metaphor for a war in his head;
the PTSD is entrenched.
-"his bloody life in my bloody hands" - alludes to
Macbeth: Macbeth the warrior with PTSD and Lady
Macbeth's bloody hands and guilt.
The Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred Tenneyson
-"Into the valley of Death": this Biblical imagery
portrays war as a supremely powerful, or even
-"jaws of Death" and "mouth of Hell": presents war as
an animal that consumes its victims.
-"Honour the Light Brigade/Noble six hundred":
language glorifies the soldiers, even in death. The 'six
hundred' become a celebrated and prestigious group.
-"shot and shell": sibilance creates whooshing sounds
Kamikaze by Beatrice Garland
-The Japanese word 'kamikaze' means 'divine wind' or
'heavenly wind', and has its origin in a heaven-sent
storm that scattered an invading fleet in 1250.
-"dark shoals of fish flashing silver": image links to a
Samurai sword - conveys the conflict between his love
for nature/life and his sense of duty. Also has sibilance.
- "they treated him as though he no longer existed":
cruel irony - he chose to live but now must live as
though he is dead.
-"was no longer the father we loved": the pilot was
forever affected by his decision.
Ozymandias by Percy Shelley
-'sneer of cold command': the king was arrogant, this
has been recognised by the sculptor, the traveller and
then the narrator.
-'Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair.': 'Look' =
imperative, stressed syllable highlights commanding
ironic - he is telling other 'mighty' kings to admire the
size of his statue and 'despair', however they should
really despair because power is only temporary.
'The lone and level sands stretch far away.': the
desert is vast, lonely, and lasts far longer than a statue.
The Prelude - William Wordsworth
'One summer evening (led by her)': 'her' might be
nature personified - this shows his love for nature.
-'an act of stealth / And troubled pleasure': confident,
but the oxymoron suggests he knows it's wrong;
forebodes the troubling events that follow.
-'nothing but the stars and grey sky': emptiness of sky.
-'the horizon's bound, a huge peak, black and huge':
the image of the mountain is more shocking (contrast).
-'Upreared its head' and 'measured motion like a
living thing': the mountain is personified as a powerful
beast, but calm - contrasts with his own inferior panic.
-'There hung a darkness': lasting effects of mountain.
Expose by Wilfred Owen
-"Our brains ache" physical (cold) suffering and mental
(PTSD or shell shock) suffering.
-Semantic field of weather: weather is the enemy.
-"the merciless iced east winds that knive us..." -
personification (cruel and murderous wind); sibilance
(cutting/slicing sound of wind); ellipsis (never-ending).
-Repetition of pronouns 'we' and 'our' - conveys
togetherness and collective suffering of soldiers.
-'mad gusts tugging on the wire' - personification
Bayonet Charge by Ted Hughes
"The patriotic tear that brimmed in his eye Sweating
like molten iron": his sense of duty (tear) has now
turned into the hot sweat of fear and pain.
"cold clockwork of the stars and nations": the soldiers
are part of a cold and uncaring machine of war.
"his foot hung like statuary in midstride.": he is frozen
with fear/bewilderment. The caesura (full stop) jolts
him back to reality.
"a yellow hare that rolled like a flame And crawled in
a threshing circle": impact of war on nature - the hare
is distressed, just like the soldiers
The Emigree by Carol Rumens
-"I left it as a child": ambiguous meaning - either she
left when she was a child or the city was a child (it was
vulnerable and she feels a responsibility towards it).
-"I am branded by an impression of sunlight": imagery
of light - it will stay with her forever.
-Personification of the city: "I comb its hair and love
its shining eyes" (she has a maternal love for the city)
and "My city takes me dancing" (it is romantic and
-"My city hides behind me": it is vulnerable and -
despite the fact that she had to flee - she is strong.
-Semantic field of conflict: "Tyrant, tanks, frontiers"
My Last Duchess by Robert Browning
-'Looking as if she was alive': sets a sinister tone.
-'Will't please you sit and look at her?' rhetorical
question to his visitor shows obsession with power.
-'she liked whate'er / She looked on, and her looks
went everywhere.': hints that his wife was a flirt.
-'as if she ranked / My gift of a nine-hundred-yearsold name / With anybody's gift': she was beneath him
in status, and yet dared to rebel against his authority.
-'I gave commands; Then all smiles stopped together':
euphemism for his wife's murder.
-'Notice Neptune, though / Taming a sea-horse': he
points out another painting, also about control.
Storm on the Island by Seamus Heaney
-'Nor are there trees which might prove company':
the island is a lonely, barren place.
-Violent verbs are used to describe the storm:
'pummels', 'exploding', 'spits'.
-Semantic field of war: 'Exploding comfortably' (also
an oxymoron to contrast fear/safety); 'wind dives and
strafes invisibly' (the wind is a fighter plane); 'We are
bombarded by the empty air' (under ceaseless attack).
-This also reinforces the metaphor of war / troubles.
-'spits like a tame cat turned savage': simile compares
the nature to an animal that has turned on its owner.
London by William Blake
-Sensory language creates an immersive effect: visual
imagery ('Marks of weakness, marks of woe') and
aural imagery ('cry of every man')
-'mind-forged manacles': they are trapped in poverty.
-Rhetorical devices to persuade: repetition ('In
every..'); emotive language ('infant's cry of fear').
-Criticises the powerful: 'each chartered street' -
everything is owned by the rich; 'Every black'ning
church appals' - the church is corrupt; 'the hapless
soldier's sigh / Runs in blood down palace walls' -
soldier's suffer and die due to the decisions of those in
power, who themselves live in palaces.
Tissue by Imtiaz Dharker
-Semantic field of light: ('Paper that lets light shine
through', 'The sun shines through their borderlines',
'let the daylight break through capitals and
monoliths') emphasises that light is central to life, a
positive and powerful force that can break through
'tissue' and even monoliths (stone statues).
-'pages smoothed and stroked and turned': gentle
verbs convey how important documents such as the
Koran are treated with respect.
-'Fine slips [...] might fly our lives like paper kites': this
simile suggests that we allow ourselves to be
controlled by paper.
Checking Out Me History by John Agard
-Imagery of fire and light used in all three stanzas
regarding black historic figures: "Toussaint de
beacon", "Fire-woman", "yellow sunrise".
-Uses non-standard phonetic spelling ("Dem tell me
wha dem want", to represent his own powerful
accent and mixes Caribbean Creole dialect with
-"I carving out me identity": metaphor for the painful
struggle to be heard, and to find his identity.
War Photographer by Carol Ann Duffy
"All flesh is grass": Biblical reference that means all
human life is temporary - we all die eventually.
"He has a job to do": like a soldier, the photographer
has a sense of duty.
"running children in a nightmare heat": emotive
imagery with connotations of hell.
"blood stained into a foreign dust": lasting impact of
war - links to Remains and 'blood shadow'.
"he earns a living and they do not care": 'they' is
ambiguous - it could refer to readers or the wider
Poppies by Jane Weir
-Contrasting semantic fields of home/childhood ("cat
hairs", "play at being Eskimos", "bedroom") with
war/injury ("blockade", bandaged", "reinforcements")
-Aural (sound) imagery: "All my words
flattened, rolled, turned into felt" shows pain and
inability to speak, and "I listened, hoping to hear
your playground voice catching on the wind" shows
longing for dead son.
-"I was brave, as I walked with you, to the front
door": different perspective of bravery in conflict.
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