Flags by John Agard

Flags by John Agard id from the AQA GCSE English Literature poetry paper and is from Moon on the Tides: Conflict.

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  • Flag By John Agard
    • Backround and Context
      • The Poem uses a pattern of questions and answers which creates a fromat which invites readers to question the purpose and value of the flag.
      • Agard explores the roots and the causes of conflict and poses questions about the man's role within it.
    • Themes and Ideas
      • The poem considers the value of patriotism as symbolised by the flag.
        • Explores ideas of national identity which provoke conflict.
        • The poem considers how the flag is used and exploited.
      • The title, Flag, invites the reader to consider why the flag it so powerful and what it represents.
    • Structure
      • Five short stanzas
        • The last stanza breaks the pattern of the other stanzas and this is really effective as it gives the stanza great impact.
      • Rhyme Scheme
        • The rhyme scheme reinforces the stanza pattern. It changes in the final stanza from aba to abb, highlighting the significance of the friend/end couplet.
      • Questions and Answer
        • A formal device.
          • Suggests seriousness of what the poet is talking about.
        • At the end the poet's voice comes through, adressing the reader directly in 'you' and 'my friend.'
          • This implies that Agard wants to help by giving good advice.
    • Techniques
      • Imagery
      • Rhetorical Questions
        • What's that fluttering in the breeze?
          • The rhetorical question emphasises the innocent image, pure and clean but also insubstantial.
          • The stanza begins with 'what's' which is in the present which shows that the poem is about now.
      • Repetition
        • Just
          • The repetition forces us to question whether the flag really is 'just' a piece of cloth.
      • Tenses
        • Future tense
          • will outlive
            • The future tense implies the strength of the flag.
      • Alliteration
        • Blood you bleed
          • The use of 'you' involves the reader and makes it more personal.
          • The alliteration draws attention to this alarming phrase.
    • Targeting A/A*
      • Look carefully at the ambiguity of some of the statments. How can 'brings a nation to its knees' be interpreted in different ways
      • Why does Agard choose to close the poem with the word 'end'?
      • Does the problem lie in the flag or in th ma's response to the flag?
    • Compares with...
      • The Right Word
        • Perceptions
        • Challenging Assumptions
      • At the Border, 1979
        • Causes of Conflict
      • next to of course god america i
        • Concepts of Patriotism
  • The flag is given almost magical power: it can control men and it 'will outlive' them. The power is alluring, but perhaps also illusory-battles can be lost as well as won.
    • Imagery
  • Untitled
  • Ambiguity
    • Techniques
      • Rhetorical Questions
        • What's that fluttering in the breeze?
          • The rhetorical question emphasises the innocent image, pure and clean but also insubstantial.
          • The stanza begins with 'what's' which is in the present which shows that the poem is about now.
      • Repetition
        • Just
          • The repetition forces us to question whether the flag really is 'just' a piece of cloth.
      • Tenses
        • Future tense
          • will outlive
            • The future tense implies the strength of the flag.
      • Alliteration
        • Blood you bleed
          • The use of 'you' involves the reader and makes it more personal.
          • The alliteration draws attention to this alarming phrase.
    • Then blind your conscience to the end
      • This is ambiguous, does the poet mean the consequences of our actions or until death.

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