Extract from Out of the Blue: Simon Armitage
Meaning - About the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the twin towers. The poem is a monologue in which a man is pleading for help and coming to terms with the fact that he is going to die as he sees people jumping out of windows. This poem also shows that conflict isn't confined to the battlefield. The speaker directly targets his family "my love" as he apologises for being trapped in this situation.
Imagery- "White cotton shirt" demonstrates that ordinary people were hugely affected, white symbolises innocence = this isn't their war. The sheer height and heat the man feels behind him is shown. There is a commotion down below but no one can help him at the top of the building. "A bird goes by" - nature continues on even during the worst times. Speaker is jealous of the bird's freedom.
Extract from Out of the Blue: Simon Armitage
Tone- Starts off as hopeful, he wants to be saved. As extract continues he starts mentally apologising to his loved ones and wondering why he cannot be helped.
Structure - Monologue, first person. If the poem is turned on its side it looks like a tower and a skyline of buildings. There are a lot of rhetorical questions which show utter confusion which demonstrates the feelings experienced by many on September 11th.
Language - "Out of the Blue" - the attack of 9/11 was unexpected, another interpretation is that it interrupted people's lives when they were least expecting it. "You have picked me out" – directly addresses the reader and causes feelings of guilt and helplessness, the reader is angry that they can do nothing to help this man and can just passively watch the goings on. "The gills" is a direct reference to the building, the shape of the building. Irony - gills are used to breathe but these gills are filled with smoke and cannot allow the man to breathe. "But tiring, tiring." Shows that the speaker is tired of having to survive, he cannot do it anymore.
Flag - John Agard
Meaning - Demonstrates how ridiculous it is for a flag to have so much power and how it will "outlive the blood you bleed" meaning that it is immortal and will forever be a symbol for war and power.
Imagery - "What's that unfurling from a pole?" - graceful action which shows the power created from something not very large, "that brings a nation to its knees" - the flag causes unanimous action and can control an entire nation.
Tone - Some sarcastic undertone, Agard seems surprised that such a thing as a flag has so much power. Also, there is a tone of surprise that "just a piece of cloth" can hold so much.
Structure - 3 line stanzas, that actually look like flags themselves which shows the power a flag can have subconsciously, they are everywhere. Short sentences with some enjambment, this shows that even if everyone follows a flag, one person may rebel and fight against it (the enjambment rebelling against the structure of the simple short sentences)
Language - "just" degrades the flag slightly, saying it is nothing more than cloth. Elegant and graceful language: "fluttering" "rising" shows the rise of power and how it can be achieved through non-violence.
Mametz Wood: Owen Sheers
Meaning - Extreme loss of life during a war, the consequences. "The wasted young." Some kindness shown to bury them arm in arm, someone does care. Is about a long grave found.
Imagery - "Foreign body" coming up through our skin, the Earth is reminding us to stop fighting to prevent all of this death and destruction. Angled skulls could represent them looking to the sun, which could be the last image they ever saw. "Nesting machine guns" - they were meant to be there, the Earth is tainted by them so much they feel at home there.
Tone - Reflective and regretful.
Structure - The dash introduces the poem and allows the reader to gather their thoughts. Three line stanzas show careful consideration, the speaker cares for them even if no one else does because they were not searched for. Enjambment helps reader to pause, consider and show respect for the dead.
Language - "Long grave" adds more respect as connotes image of a carefully dug grave where they were placed. "Now" - this grave found affects later generations, and all past war crimes are applicable today. "Mosaic" - making art from something broken, there is some hope.
At the Border, 1979: Choman Hardi
Meaning - A child is reminiscing about when she moved back to her home country after moving away. The guards to her home country appear unwelcoming and demonstrate that after whatever conflict that occurred they do not want people to come back?
Imagery - Chain - demonstrates physical barrier between two countries. One leg in each country shows that in the end it is just a chain and can easily be overcome just by stepping over it.
Tone -Reflective, allows us to imagine it ourselves just as the child is imagining now.
Structure - Enjambment "continued/divided by a thick iron chain" shows that the chain can divide up the lines of the poem as well as families and countries, Iron eventually rusts which shows that the divide between the countries may not last forever. The rain could symbolise the coming of the end of the divide as rust needs rain to occur. Italics = emphasis "we are going home"
Language -The poem does not use a lot of 'poetic' language but much of the language has many connotations. For example, the word "border" could be a border between life and death, youth and age, innocence and experience. The date of the title fixes this poem in a particular time and place. There are very few adjectives and these are mostly unexciting: "last" and "different". The more colourful adjectives ("clean", "beautiful" and "kind") come from the child's mother. However, the contrast with the boring wait at the check-point and the child's lack of excitement makes it seem like the mother's promises are not real. This sense is confirmed by the following line: "Dozens of families waited in the rain". This uses the anticlimax of a dream being replaced by reality to create a poetic effect called bathos. Describing the "homeland" as "Muddy" in line 26 shows the contrast between the adult's romantic vision of the place, and the child's simple, clear view of it.
The Yellow Palm: Robert Minhinnick
Meaning -Walking down a street in Baghdad, Iraq. Message = good can be found even in the worst environments and wars: "the fruit fell in his arms" - the child represents hope
Imagery - Sun personified as "barbarian", cannot even look at the sky which is normally without conflict because the sun has become part of the conflict. Repetition shows that the speaker is detached and is away from home and uncomfortable. "Blessed it with a smile" – innocence connoted.
Tone - Speaker is being critical but allows the reader to form their own opinions about what he is seeing. There could be other things that he saw on his walk by he chose these to write, in this sense he is influencing our opinion.
Structure - First person offers human perspective, which is more trustworthy and provides an eyewitness account of what he saw. The form is ballad-like which is normally a poem about love which is an oxymoron to the harsh images of blood stained walls.
Language - Religion is shown as something good: "golden mosque" and "sweet as salaams" but later the colour changes from gold to "silver mile" which could show the slight loss of faith people experience due to war.