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Power and Conflict Poetry - Context
Terms in this set (15)
Remains by Simon Armitage
"These are poems of survivors - the damaged,
exhausted men who return from war in body but
never, wholly, in mind." Simon Armitage
-Poem coincided with increased awareness of PTSD
amongst the military, and aroused sympathy amongst
the public - many of whom were opposed to the war.
Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred Tennyson
-As Poet Laureate, he had a responsibility to inspire the
nation and portray the war in a positive light:
-Although Tennyson glorifies the soldiers who took
part, he also draws attention to the fact that a
commander had made a mistake: "Someone had
-This was a controversial point to make in Victorian
times when blind devotion to power was expected.
Kamikaze by Beatrice Garland
-Cowardice or surrender was a great shame in wartime
-To surrender meant shame for you and your family,
and rejection by society: "he must have wondered
which had been the better way to die".
Ozymandias by Percy Shelley
-Shelley was a poet of the 'Romantic period' (late
1700s and early 1800s). Romantic poets were
interested in emotion and the power of nature.
-Shelley also disliked the concept of a monarchy and
the oppression of ordinary people.
-He had been inspired by the French revolution - when
the French monarchy was overthrown.
Extract from, The Prelude - William Wordsworth
-Published shortly after his death, The Prelude was a
very long poem (14 books) that told the story of
William Wordsworth's life.
-This extract is the first part of a book entitled
'Introduction - Childhood and School-Time'.
-Like Percy Shelley, Wordsworth was a romantic poet
and so his poetry explores themes of nature, human
emotion and how humans are shaped by their
interaction with nature
Exposure by Wilfred Owen
-Written in 1917 before Owen went on to win the
Military Cross for bravery, and was then killed in battle
in 1918: the poem has authenticity as it is written by
an actual soldier.
- Of his work, Owen said: "My theme is war and the
pity of war".
-Despite highlighting the tragedy of war and mistakes
of senior commanders, he had a deep sense of duty:
"not loath, we lie out here" shows that he was not
bitter about his suffering
Bayonet Charge by Ted Hughes
-Published in 1957, but most-likely set in World War 1.
-Hughes' father had survived the battle of Gallipoli in
World War 1, and so he may have wished to draw
attention to the hardships of trench warfare.
-He draws a contrast between the idealism of
patriotism and the reality of fighting and killing. ("King,
honour, human dignity, etcetera")
The Emigree by Carol Rumens
-Emigree was published in 1993. The home country of
the speaker is not revealed - this ambiguity gives the
poem a timeless relevance.
-Increasingly relevant to many people in current world
My Last Duchess - Robert Browning
-Browning was a British poet, and lived in Italy. The
poem was published in 1842.
-Browning may have been inspired by the story of an
Italian Duke (Duke of Ferrara): his wife died in
suspicious circumstances and it was rumoured that she
had been poisoned.
Storm on the Island by Seamus Heaney
-Seamus Heaney was Northern Irish, he died in 2013.
-This poem was published in 1966 at the start of 'The
Troubles' in Northern Ireland: a period of deep unrest
and violence between those who wanted to remain
part of the UK and those who wanted to become part
-The first eight letters of the title spell 'Stormont': this
is the name of Northern Ireland's parliament. The
poem might be a metaphor for the political storm that
was building in the country at the time
London by William Blake
-The poem was published in 1794, and time of great
poverty is many parts of London.
-William Blake was an English poet and artist. Much of
his work was influenced by his radical political views:
he believed in social and racial equality.
-This poem is part of the 'Songs of Experience'
collection, which focuses on how innocence is lost and
society is corrupt.
-He also questioned the teachings of the Church and
the decisions of Government.
Tissue by Imtiaz Dharker
-Imtiaz Dharker was born in Pakistan and grew up in
Glasgow. 'Tissue' is taken from a 2006 collection of
poems entitles 'The Terrorist at My Table': the
collection questions how well we know people around
-This particular poem also questions how well we
understand ourselves and the fragility of humanity.
Checking Out Me History by John Agard
-John Agard was born in the Caribbean in 1949 and
moved to the UK in the 1970s.
-His poetry challenge racism and prejudice.
-This poem may, to some extent, have achieved its
purpose: in 2016, a statue was erected in London in
honour of Mary Seacole, one of the subjects of the
War Photographer by Carol Ann Duffy
-Like Tennyson and Ted Hughes, Duffy was the Poet
-Duffy was inspired to write this poem by her
friendship with a war photographer. She was intrigued
by the challenge faced by these people whose job
requires them to record terrible, horrific events
without being able to directly help their subjects.
-The location is ambiguous and therefore universal:
("Belfast. Beirut. Phnom Penh.")
Poppies by Jane Weir
-Set around the time of the Iraq and Afghan wars, but
the conflict is deliberately ambiguous to give the poem
a timeless relevance to all mothers and families.
-There are hints of a critical tone; about how soldiers
can become intoxicated by the glamour or the military:
"a blockade of yellow bias" and "intoxicated".
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