The Manhunt - Simon Armitage
- It's about the wife of a soldier who was seriously injured at war and returned home - it explores the physical and mental effects of living with injusries sustained when on active service in the armed forces.
- Structure: Couplets, mostly unrhymed. Sense of fragmentation which matches the feelings of the soldier's wife as she seeks to understand the man he's become. It ends with the search coming to a close.
- Language: Puns on the idea of the 'manhunt'. Speaker refers to parts of her husband's body metaphorically comparing them to inanimate objects rather than living things suggests that he's not open to her anymore. Close detail of her hands exploring the altered body of her husband.
- It's essentially about the cost of war on those serving in the armed forces. Also about the patience and care of love. It's not judging the rights or the wrongs of the war, just discussing its impacts.
Compared to In Paris with You, The Farmer's Bride and To His Coy Mistress
Hour - Carol Ann Duffy
- It's about feelings that come from spending time with a loved one. Suggests that only an hour with a loved one is precious and valuable. Also discusses the idea of time as an obstacle.
- Structure: Shakespearean sonnet - predictable rhyme scheme.
- Language: Many references to money and riches, contrasting the concept of material wealth and possessions against love and time spent with a loved one. It suggests that time is an important consideration for the lovers.
- Imagery: There's a contrast between traditionally romantic language and the ordinary. These emphasize that the materialistics of things are unimportant compared to the personal experience of the two characters.
- It's essentially about the traditional battle between love and time. It questions the assumption that time will triumph and lead to separation which makes it a cliché in its message. It's about enjoying intimacy of a moment in time rather than thinking about the world beyond.
Compared to In Paris with You, Sonnet 116 and To His Coy Mistress
In Paris with You - James Fenton
- It's a recount by a narrator whose relationship just ended and is now in Paris with someone else. The narrator doesnt want to examine the aftermath of the serious relationship and just wants to enjoy the moment rather than think of the past or future.
- Structure: Regular rhyme scheme in the four stanzas.
- Language: It celebrates the intimacy of a relationship and is written in first person, addressing a lover. The reader's made to feel like they're eavesdropping. The repetition of colloquial language suggests it's very honest. Word play is used to generate humor ad brings a fun and inventive tone to the poem.
- It's essentially about surfacing from a long-term relationship but not thinking of the consequences. It rejects traditional concerns of romance and instead concentrates on the details that sum up the poem's message: being together is far more important than typical romantic locations and analytical conversations
Compared to Born Yesterday and Hour
Quickdraw - Carol Ann Duffy
- It's a one-sided snapchot of a relationship - the speaker's waiting for contact from her lover and the context of the relationship is unclear.
- Structure: No rhyme scheme or regular rhythm - largely in free verse w/enjambment
- Language: Plays on the imagery associated with western films. There's a lighthearted tone to the poem created by images that are typically slapstick. Makes it purposefully ambiguous, so the meaning of the lines is open to interpretation.
- It's essentially exploring the way in which relationships can become a struggle for power, often leading to 'shootouts' or arguments. Humorous but deals with an emotional struggle. The ending is ambiguous so it leaves the reader questioning.
Compared to Nettles and Sister Maude
Ghazal - Mimi Khalvati
- It's a love poem in which a speaker seeks to secure the love and attention of another. There are so many details here to pick out but the poem gives the impression that the feelings are not mutual.
- Structure: Traditional ghazal - couplets don't rhyme but at the end of each couplet there's a repetition of the word "me"
- Language: Extensive use of metaphor pairs of items or objects that complement each other. The metaphors also suggest that the two lovers are part of a larger whole. Couplet presents the metaphor of the speaker as the one in the shadows or subordinate one which implies that the character/voice has a very low self esteem and the object of affection is put in a higher position. Speaker offers to change for the sake of their loved one and is very well aware of how unhealthy and destructive their behavior is.
- Frequent references to the idea that a lover can complete a person. The poet is concerned with physical closeness and it also explores that love and longing can both be negative and positive.
Compared to In Paris with You and The Farmer's Bride
Brothers - Andrew Foster
- It's about a boy spending an afternoon with his younger brother - explores the relationship between siblings. Written from an adult perspective but considers the feelings and thoughts of the young brother.
- Structure: No rhyme or strict pattern. 3 stanzas about 3 different stages of the afternoon: setting the scehene, disruption to plans and conclusion + separation of the brothers.
- Imagery: Opening metaphor sets the tone for the relationship that suggests negative feelings, as if the younger brother is an inconvenience, restricting the freedom of the speaker. The older child lacks enthusiasm towards the younger one but images suggest the older boys are also still children. The writer has a subtle hint of resentment towards the little brother.
- It's about aspirations to be older and regretting those feelings of childhood superority. It's about the inevitability of the boys' distant relationship: they're physcically separated and metaphorically separated by time.
Compared to Sister Maude and Harmonium
Praise Song for My Mother - Grace Nichols
- It's a praise song - traditional form of many African cultures and is often sung.
- Structure: It's in 4 stanzas, the first 3 match in format but the last one's extended bringing attention to the poem's final line about the daughter's expanding horizons and moving towards wide futures as if reflecting the way in which the mother's care for her has allowed her to grow and move on.
- Language: Use of past tense makes it clear that the poet's reminscining about childhood memories and the influence of her mother. Many references to nature, rooting the poem in the earth and a simplistic upbringing, one which is based on natural rhythems of the moon, water and sunrise. The repetition reinforces the idea of the security and certainty because it's become something to depend on (replenishing, replenishing). The plural of futures at the end implies that the mother's not controlling but just showing her daughter the wide possibilities ahead of her.
- The main concept's about mothers being a source of nourishment for children providing them with the essentials needed in order to flourish into adulthood. The celebratory nature can be seen in the active and positive language used to describe her mother who is praised for being active in the life of her daughter.
Compared to Sonnet 43 and Nettles
Harmonium - Simon Armitage
- Harmonium's a musical organ played using keys and foot pedals, the poem's about someone rescuing a harmonium from being bundled off to the skip. Narrator needs his father's help to carry it away from the church.
- Structure: The first stanza is concerned with the relationship between the speaker and his father. 4 stanzas in total of varying lengths.
- Language: Uses brand and place names frequently to bring an element of reality and honesty to his work. Colloquial language is used to create an informal, friendly and conversational tone.
- Imagery: A positive and joyful image of the past is created. The harmonium's also given human qualities throughout. Aside from the literal meaning, the poem's focus is aging and how a son takes the place of his father as time passes. There's a use of parallelism - form of repition in which syntax is repeated - and this intensifies the relationship between father and son. The speaker feels inadequate - is he up to the job of replacing his father? Or is he upset and tongue-tied at the thought that the next thing carried from the church will be his father's coffin.
- It's about life's cyclical nature. Could be about regret too and inability to recapture memories.
Compared to Praise Song for My Mother and Nettles
Sonnet 116 - Shakespeare (oh god)
- It's about the exploration of love as a concept - perhaps one that is life's constants.
- Structure: Shakespearean sonnet: 14 lines. Regular pattern and conventional structure with the turn at the end that shifts the mood/meaning or asserts a revelation.
- Language: Repeated pairs of words, opposites and negatives stressing the qualities of love by saying what it's not. It uses natural elements like the tempests and stars. There's an echo of the conventional Christian marriage service in the opening lines. He also uses language associated with extremes to show the power of love, confirming it triumphant.
- The main concept is about how love is priceless and beyond the ability of man to evaluate. It proposes that love is a constant - the metaphor of the star is important because love is seen to not be restricted by time or place.
Compared to Sonnet 43 and To His Coy Mistress
Sonnet 43 - Elizabeth Browning
- It expresses intense love for her husband (written before she was married to him) She attempts to define love and begins with "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways!"
- Structure: Traditional sonnet w/14 lines, regular rhyme scheme, assonace used a lot.
- Language: Makes use of repetition and could reflect the devotion the poet feels for her lover as well as the persistent nature of love itself. It also suggests breathlessness and excitement. It implies a conversation between two lovers with the opening rheteorical question. Lines are frequently broken up by punctuation which suggest even more excitement because she's passionate in her explanation.
- The main concept is how love is powerful and all encompassing. She sees love as a positive, powerful and life-changing force. Her lover becomes a spiritual saviour.
Compared to Sonnet 116 and Hour
To His Coy Mistress - Andrew Marvell
- Speaker's trying to convince his mistress that they should seize the day and not hold back from expressing their feelings for each other, and so should sleep together.
- Structure: 3 sections divided into the: First stanza: If we had time // Second stanza: But we dont // Third stanza: So let's...
- Language: Humorous exaggerations referencing to traditional romantic ideas. He's presenting a courtship which may sound wonderful but it's all just an exaggerated fantasy. Images of death and decay are used in the second stanza to show the lover the pointlessness of resisting.
- The main concept challenges religious ideas and speaks of making the most of life because after life, there's nothing. Waiting and resisting urges in life is pointless. In poetry time's personified as being the enemy of lovers. Time will bring death. It's a famous example of the classical idea of "carpe diem" or "seize the day".
Compared to Hour and Sonnet 43
The Farmer's Bride - Charlotte Mew
- It's about a farmer who marries "a maid" and refers to their early experience of marriage. Told from father's perspective and the wife becomes withdrawn and uncommunicative.
- Structure: There's a sense of time passing with the tragic situation unchanged. Six stanzas with strong use of rhyme.
- Language: Simplistic and colloquial language creates the personality of the farmer-narrator in his rural environment. The farmer's wife is frequently compared to a wild, native animal. The short fourth stanza stands out as a sensual, admiring description of the wife. Heavy use of sinilance to produce a sense of the farmer's whispered appreciation. Punctuation is used for emphasis and the commas at the end of the first stanza slow the pace and halt the rhythm.
- To the farmer, the relationship should be functional and uncomplicated and feelings should not be a consideration. He's full of regret that there isnt someone else in the house because he feels lonely. A wife to him should provide comfort to her husband, have children and keep house. Men are also dominant in the poem just as they would've been at the time.
Compared to To His Coy Mistress
Sister Maude - Christina Rossetti
- Describes the death of a loved one caused by the actions of a jealous sister. Ambiguous buy hints strongly that kealousy and betrayal led to the death of a sister's lover. From the perspective of the betrayed.
- Structure: Each stanza contains even lines that rhyme, it's traditional and regular. Fifth stanza has 2 extra lines with a turn - this changes the mood subtly.
- Language: Opens with a rhetorical question and makes it clear that there's an implied audience - the woman's sister who's accused of bringing about the death of a lover. The break in the 3rd line reflects the speaker's outrage and anger that Maude could've deliberately caused the tragedy. Repetition of "Maude" also adds to the strength of the narrator's feelings. There are frequent religious references in the poem, reflecting conventions within society at the time in which the poem was written as well as the seriousness of the events described. Alliteration and repetition of the letter "s" mimicking the hissing satisfaction that the speaker feels at the prospect of her sister going to hell.
- Explores the destructiveness of jealousy and the darker side of sisterhood. Also about opposites: good vs. evil, heaven vs. hell. The speaker feels joy at the prospect of Maude in hell which is presented as a fitting punishment for a sin.
Compared to Brothers and Praise Song for My Mother
Nettles - Vernon Scannell
- About a child falling into a patch of nettles and seeking comfort from his parents. The speaker in the poem is attending to the injuries and sets about destroying the nettles.
- Structure: Narrative account, single stanza, alternately rhyming lines.
- Language: Use of martial imagery and language which appear strange at first given the domestic subject matter. He offers his opinion both war and the situation with his child. The child is presented using emotive language, reflective of the compassion and sympathy the speaker feels for his injured son. The father's reaction is as violent as the nettles' stings - he takes revenge in his strong desire to protect his son and punish those who injured him.
- Explores the impulse for a parent to protect a child, using whatever means necessary. Also about the inevitability of wounds being left through life whatever a parent may do to prevent them. Poem about a parent realising that life wil present children with hurtful situations, ones which cannot be avoided or prevented.
Compared to The Manhunt and Praise Song for My Mother
Born Yesterday - Phillip Larkin
- The title is a pun or play on words: literally the poem was written shortly after Sally - the daughter of Kingsley Amis - a friend of Larkin's and a famous novelist. He welcomes the child into the world and outlines what he hopes will become her attributes. But "born yesterday" also means someone who's clueless about the world.
- Structure: Has 2 sections - lines are short and direct. First stanza concentrates on the presentation and eventual deflation of traditional wishes for a newborn child. The second one is an indication of the belief that this attitude is more worthwhile.
- Language: Uses imagery associated with a newborn baby and compares to a leaf or flower in bud ready to open to full beauty and potential. The use of negatives undermines the presentation of traditional wishes as well as preparing the reader for the second stanza in which less conventional wishes are offered. It's informal and honest in tone and it's honest, realistic and sincere.
- The speaker asserts the opinion that the best way of catching happiness is to embrace the ordinary, dull life that so many people experience. To wish for more is perhaps to focus on unrealstic and ultimately damaging ambitions. He dismisses "beauty, love and innocence" as naive wishes - perhaps those who wish such things are "born yesterday"
Compared to Hour and To His Coy Mistress