Notes on 'Flag'- John Agard

Notes on the poem 'Flag'- John Agard, from 'Moon on the tides'

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Flag- John Agard
5 stanzas, 3 lines each
1st line- question
2nd line is same until v5 "it's just a piece of cloth"
`it's so easy to get a flag' ­last verse
Title- Flag, surrender, peace, feeble
Fluttering, unfurling, rising, flying- all similar, not necessarily associated with war
Questioning how can "just a piece of cloth" have such power over man
Different stanzas- not just one, shows individual thoughts, different ways of
explaining the same things
Surrender flag?- how such a piece of cloth can have so much of an impact
Cliché- makes it easy to understand
Flags are symbolic of war, surrender, patriotism
"Knees"- begging? If you get on your knees, you can't give anymore
"fluttering in the breeze" sounds very peaceful, pretty, the opposite to war, sounds
like a butterfly
Only in the last verse does it say "flag"
Quite calm overall, nothing to suggest a war apart from a few words;
o Guts
o Coward
o Blood/bleed
o Men grow bold
o Field
o Blind
About the causes of wars
Compare to CLB
National pride
Flags inspire national pride, loyalty, great bravery
Could patriotism lead to things that are immoral?
The second line is always short- blunt, final tone, doesn't ramble on, to the point
1st and 3rd line rhyme except in the final stanza- makes it stand out and makes the
point clear
Q and A style
"end." is the final word- shows the end of the poem but it could also represent the
end of a soldier's life
The reader is `challenged' throughout- asked questions and becomes involved
Really informal, simple, casual questions that contrast the `nobility' of a flag
Alliteration, repetition, q/a
Not "the" just "a" means it could refer to any war
Letting empty symbols control us
Perhaps he mocks the way people allow a national symbol to have power over
Unfurling, fluttering etc- `pretty' words that are incongruent to war
Agard was born in 1949 (still alive) ½ African/American ½ Portuguese- his poems
are based around culture and ethnicity

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