AQA Poetry on theme of Work

Notes on poems upon the theme of work

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: Emma
  • Created on: 17-05-09 21:29

The Chimney Sweep - William Blake

  • Song
  • Contrast of the Voice of Innoncence with Voice of Experience
  • Thoughts are contained within stanzas lending a heavy feel to the poem
  • Stanzas reflect the claustrophobia and restrictions of the chimney
  • Absence of imagery reflects the cutting off of a child's imagination or reflect the simple diction of a child
  • Rhyming couplets
  • Mood is optimistic in contrast with the foreboding and threatening voice of experience
  • Voice of Innocence = naieve, vulnerable
  • Voice of Experience = sceptic, threatening

Poem suggets that the children are in danger whether or not they are obedient whilst religion promises to protect the children if they 'do their duty'

1 of 27

Haymaking by Joanne Baillie

  • Work is manual labour
  • Idealised view of 18th century rural life presented
  • Pastoral homage
  • Poem is exaggerated and lacks critical perspective
  • Pastoral poem
  • 3rd person narrative creates a distant & omniscient narrator with a panoramic view of the area
  • Single verse paragraph echoes the fecundity of nature, cohesive society & continuous nature of work
  • Authority mentioned suggests a representative slice of society spoken about
  • Lack of similes & metaphors reflects the simplistic rural existence & language
  • Language is poetic, archaic & rural specific reflecting the traditional period
  • Language equates work and happiness
  • Iambic pentameter echoes regularity, continuity & structure
  • Speaker of the poem immortalises society ignoring the imminent threat of industrialisation
2 of 27

Work Without Hope by Samuel Taylor Coleridge 1

  • Work is the writing of poetry
  • Poem is ironic as the poet laments his inability to write poetry in a poem
  • Theme of writing poetry remains oblique throughout
  • Productivity of nature is used to highlight the isolation of the poet
  • Poet is presented as an observor rather than a participant
  • Imagery echoes the natural world and refers to the poets mental state
  • Poem is an untraditional sonnet
  • Narrative voice in the sestet emphasizes the poets inability to write
  • 2nd person narrative in the octet addresses the audience
  • 3rd person narrative in the final rhyming couplet makes a universal point and is a volta
  • Sestet focuses on the productivity of nature in opposition to the poets inability to be productive
  • Octet furthers the idea and links it to the audience
  • Use of alternate rhyme creates an open mood
  • Rhyming couplet indicates a final conclusion
  • Personification of nature & seasons shows they work automatically
  • Apostacy is used as the poet addresses the Amaranths which he knows cannot answer
3 of 27

Work Without Hope by Samuel Taylor Coleridge 2

  • Stressed syllable in the first line "All" emphasizes the poets exclusion
  • Poem can be read in sympathy with the poet or viewed as the self - indulgent outpourings of a lethargic poet
4 of 27

A Coat by W.B. Yeats

  • Work is the writing of poetry
  • Yeats rejects the poets that adpoted his 'Celtic Twilight' style
  • First person narrative as the poem is personal
  • 10 line stanza shows the less complicated style adopted by Yeats
  • 1st 4 lines of the poem set up the extended metaphor
  • Lines 5-7 focus on imitation of 'Celtic Twilight' style
  • Last 3 lines is a renunciation of the style
  • Extended metaphor of the coats acts as an analogy for Yeats decorated and stylised 'Celtic Twilight' style
  • Lack of imagery echoes Yeat's new simplistic style
  • Regular and off rhyme
  • Rhythm echoes the volta in last 3 lines
  • Tone is bitter and scournful
  • Metaphorical nakedness signifies an important step in the poets development and suggests that a poet has a responsibility to convey him message in an uncomplicated way
5 of 27

Miners by Wilfred Owen 1

  • Work is mining or fighting
  • Poem is in response to an explosion in a coal mine in 1918 that killed 150 miners
  • Poem echoes WWI
  • Highlights the expendability of miners & soldiers who risk their lives and are then forgotten by the future generations that live in comfort due to their sacrifice
  • Dramatic monologue
  • First person narrative as the poem is a personal response to an event
  • Stanzas 1 - 3 focus on prehistoric times and the origin of coal
  • Stanzas 4 - 6 focus on the sacrifice of the miners and soldiers
  • Stanzas 7 & 8 focuses on the oblivious future generations that live in comfort
  • Throughout poem there is the unifying symbol of coal which is an instrumental war material in war time
  • Semantic field of darkness signifying death
  • Personal prounouns show the poet identifies with the speaker
  • Half rhyme creates a heavy sound lending a bleak & sombre tone to the poem
  • Half rhyme and shortened lines signify the lives half - lived & short life
  • Regular rhyme in stanzas lends a more positive tone
  • Low pitched vowel sounds echo resignation and inevitability
6 of 27

Miners by Wilfred Owen 2

  • Tone is resigned and accepting
  • Owen writes of the poignancy of death and the lack of appreciation accorded
7 of 27

"Oh Lurcher-loving collier, black as night..." by

  • Work is mining
  • Contrasts of work and play & black and white
  • Song
  • Speaker encourages miner to pursue love while he can
  • Last 3 lines encourages the miners lover to ensure she is caught
  • Extended metre in line 5 symbolises Sunday, the day the lovers wish to last longest
  • Language is specific to mining
  • Regular rhyme
  • Syllabic beat of lines
  • Universal message
  • Poem urges lovers to seize the opportunities presented by love
8 of 27

Toads by Philip Larkin 1

  • Toad is an extended metaphor throughout the poem symbolising the burden of work and fear of negating responsibility
  • Poet questions if working all one's life is worth the financial reward of a pension and whether he is battling part of his identity. Question remains unanswered but speaker learns an important lesson
  • 2nd voice in the poem is the toad of responsibility
  • First person narrative used as the speaker is introspective
  • Poem presents the subversive desire for freedom vs. need for security
  • Ends with a tone of finality upon a conclusion
  • Quatrains echo the cogent and methodical steps used to solve a problem
  • Similes and hyperbole used to vent frustration
  • Visual images are unusual creating humour
  • Literary allusions used but for the opposite meaning to which they were intended
  • Alliteration & siballance create a casual attitude
  • Irony invoked as although poet despises work he needs the security it provides
  • Half rhyme creates a bittersweet message
  • Enjambement links the ideas within the poem
9 of 27

Toads by Philip Larkin 2

  • Colloquial style, humourous images & lack of poetic style suggests truth and authenticity of the poem
  • End of the poem the speakers tone becomes resigned to the need for work
10 of 27

Toads Revisited by Philip Larkin 2

  • Poet views people not working making him realise his desire to work rather than being inactive & lacking purpose
  • Narrative voice expresses a universal & hypothetical standpoint
  • Structure reflects the certainty of the speaker
  • Extended metaphor of the toad
  • Lots of similes, metaphors & personification
  • End rhyming couplet reflects the grudging conclusion of the speaker
  • Quatrains echo different ideas, shortness of life & compartmentalizing of work
  • Poet associates work with mental & physical ability, structure ensuing the brain won't suffer and a sense of purpose
  • Half rhyme echoes distraction and lack of commitment of the speaker
  • Syntactic patterning [repetition of themes/words] reinforces the ideas
  • Mood of stanza 6 suggests that other forces govern ones life even if one doesn't work
  • Mood of final stanza is the resignation of the continuation of owrk
  • Overall mood is resolute, resigned and final
  • Poem presents an alternate attitude to work
11 of 27

Toads Revisited by Philip Larkin 1

  • Persuasion to agree with poet due to negative depiction of work
  • Poem can be read as depressing as it suggests one works until death or can be read as humourous due to image of the toad
12 of 27

View of a Pig by Ted Hughes 1

  • Pig is fattened up - a means to an end- to become the end product
  • Lack of life in stanzas is contrasted to the vitality in stanzas 7 & 8
  • First person narrative
  • Lack of emotion creates distance between speaker & subject
  • Stanza 1 - 6 focuses on the pigs death in a detached way
  • Stanza 6 is disjointed
  • Stanza 7 & 8 are more dynamic & personal due to use of anecdote
  • Regular structure echoes moderated feelings and factual subject
  • Enjambement adds flexibility to the poem
  • Stanza 7 seperates memory from reality
  • Imagery in stanza 7 shows pig making animalistic & incoherent noises
  • Monosyllables in first 2 lines create heavy, dead sound echoing subject matter
  • Diction in stanza 3 shows frustration
  • Stanza 6 uses blunt language echoing lack of emotion
  • Hyperbole recreates pig as a monstrous force
  • Repetition of death enforces the idea and is anti - elegaic
  • No regular rhythm or rhyme
  • Internal rhyme emphasizes heavy dead sounds
13 of 27

View of a Pig by Ted Hughes 2

  • End stopped lines echo the finality of death
  • Speaker appears frustrated & disrespectful of the pig viewing it is an inanimate object rather than a living animal
14 of 27

Tractor by Ted Hughes 1

  • Tractor viewed as a powerful but unintelligent opponent
  • 3 major forces set in opposition: elements, human and tractor
  • Work presented as a struggle/conflict between forces
  • Speaker is a farmer or labourer
  • Free verse conveys ideas & emotions of human & suggests interaction
  • Free verse echoes idea of something uncontrolled, unpredictable
  • Stanza 1 focuses on conflict between elements & tractor
  • Stanza 2 continues the conflict and introduces human
  • Stanza 3 & 4 are linked through the anticipation of the tractor 'coming to life'
  • Stanza 5 the tractor comes to life and the human is defeated
  • Semantic field of war in stanza 2
  • Present tense verbs in stanza 6 suggest immediacy and focus
  • Stanza 6 use words linked to heaviness, force & imprisonment which have dual meanings as they apply to the tractor & imply human futility to assert force
  • Repetition in stanza 4 echoes human futility
  • No regular pattern or rhyme
  • Rhythmic quality created through use of alliteration, assonance, half - rhymes & onomatopoeia
15 of 27

Tractor by Ted Hughes 2

  • Poem presents attitude and feeling of poet towards work
  • Mood is frustration, anger & conflict
  • Humans are undermined as tractor is victorious
16 of 27

The Forge by Seamus Heaney 1

  • Rural work of forging
  • Analogy for writing a poem which remains oblique
  • Forging is depicted as a dying art
  • Noise creates the image of what occurs in the forge
  • Blacksmiths 'music' of his trade echoes the poets 'song'
  • First person narrative as the poet is speaking as a young boy
  • Mystery is created through ambiguity
  • Untraditional sonnet form reflects the traditional art dying out
  • Poem starts outside, continues inside & returns outside containing the poem within
  • Image of farrier is reminscient of Vulcan the roman god of the forge, elevating the character
  • "Door in the Dark" is a metaphor for the human mind
  • Monosyllabic verbs in last 2 lines echo the heavy rhythmic labour
  • 'Music' of the forge is created through assonance, onomatopoeia & alliteration
  • Irregular rhyme & half - rhyme help create the 'music'
  • Regular rhyme scheme [lines 1 -4 and last 6 lines] echo the repetitive task
  • Rhythm is erratic
17 of 27

The Forge by Seamus Heaney 2

  • End stopped lines create conclusive, seperate statements
  • Speaker is derogatory of the farrier describing him in an unsophisticated way
18 of 27

Felix Randal by Gerard Manley Hopkins 1

  • Work of the priest is presented as beneficial and personal
  • Felix is defined by his work
  • Message of poem is that despite one's physical strength we all die
  • Religious sonnet
  • 3rd person narrative focuses on Felix and is plural, inclusive & makes a universal point
  • 1st stanza focuses on the physical state of Felix
  • 2nd stanza focuses on the spiritual & mental state of Felix
  • 3rd stanza focuses on the emotional relationship between Felix and the priest
  • 4th stanza is reflective and raises Felix to almost mythical status
  • Personification of time and illness
  • Alliteration links the priest & farrier to their respective occupations showing importance
  • Religious diction used
  • Final stanza uses alliteration ensuring pronounciation creating emphasis & uses plosives to indicate power
  • Repetition of vowel sounds shows Felix is the epitome of a man
  • Poem begins with an indifferent tone which develops into a tone of positivity and admiration
19 of 27

Felix Randal by Gerard Manley Hopkins 2

  • Poem holds a negative message about death
  • Poem suggests that one's occupation is central to one's life and identity
20 of 27

The Solitary Reaper by William Wordsworth

  • Dramatic Monologue
  • Rural labour presented as serene
  • Poem focuses on the singing and setting rather than work
  • 1st person narrative although the speaker is distant from the work
  • Semantic field of isolation as speaker is not a participant
  • Pathetic fallacy used
  • Alliteration & sibillance recreates the 'song'
  • Poem transcends through the past, present & future as the girl is a symbol of tradition
  • Tone is that of regret
  • Rhyming couplets suggest the world is in order
  • Iambic rhythm suggests the rhythmic quality of her work
  • Poet seeks to immortalise her song
  • Poem sets hot & cold in opposition
  • Regular alternate rhyme scheme reflects the regularity of her work & harmony
  • Caesura breaks rhythm focusing emphasis
  • Harmony suggested through enjambement & liquid imagery
21 of 27

The Carpenter's Son by A.E. Housman

  • Dramatic monologue
  • Poem is lyrcal using a regular rhyme scheme & refain
  • Epigrammatic as it is short & carries a moral message
  • Poem can be read metaphorically & literally
  • Speaker laments that if he had followed his fathers trade he wouldn't be hung
  • Speaker has a self - centred morality as he regrets the consequence not the crime
  • The 'ill' repeated in the poem remains oblique
  • Tone of wistful evocation of doomed youth
  • First person narrative
  • Implied readers are the young men of the area
  • 2nd person narrative addresses the audience as a message is given
  • Lack of imagery suggests speakers unsophisticatd & simplistic background
  • Implied religious imagery of the crucifixtion of christ
  • Idiom 'save your own [neck]' reinforces speakers self - centered morality
  • Religous allusions are ironic as christ sacrificed himself from the sins of others wihlsts speaker of the poem focuses on himself but doesnt regret his sin
  • 4th stanza is startling as implies violence
  • Brief, regular stanzas seperates poem into logical steps making it predictable
22 of 27

The Carpenter's Son by A.E. Housman

  • Rhyming couplets signify finality as speaker will die
  • Poem contains a tone of foreboding as speaker warns his friends
  • Speaker views the world as reductive as he views life in a simplistic way - if you follow the right path you will come to no harm
  • Speaker doesnt view world in a reductive way as he has no sense of right and wrong
23 of 27

To A Friend Whose Work Has Come To Nothing by W.B.

  • Poem is about a friend of W.B. Yeats called Lady Gregory
  • Work that has 'come to nothing' is her efforts to persuade Dublin government to build an art gallery
  • 'Brazen throat' is William Martin Murphy who opposed project wanting 'sanitary house at low rent' to be built for the poor
  • Poem aims to inspire hope in a temporarily beaten artist
  • Speaker assures there is no shame in defeat in an unfair competition
  • Speaker advises perseverance and continuity
  • Narrative voice is that of Yeats
  • Poem is a verse epistle [letter like]
  • Poem starts with problem, offers a solution, gives a reason for solution
  • Similes allude to Yeats & Lady Gregory's love for culture
  • Speaker suggests the most difficult thing to do is to persevere in face of failure
  • Half rhyme symbolizes the problem
  • Full rhyme symbolizes the solution
  • Brief lines & poem suggests advice without embellishment which may detract from meaning
24 of 27

To A Friend Whose Work Has Come To Nothing by W.B.

  • Speakers attitude is strong and continuous
  • Speakers mood is consolidating, inspiration & encouraging
  • Poem presents a rational apporach to an irrational feeling oversimplifying the problem
  • Title is an anomaly as it is blunt and honest rather than encouraging
  • Work is described as an action that requires consistent perseverance
  • Speaker suggests that art is an end rather than a means
25 of 27

In Memory of W.B. Yeats by W.H. Auden 1

  • Poem is an ode & elegy to Yeats
  • Poem suggests Yeats lives on through the imagination of others
  • Arguably 3 different voices presented, 1 per section
  • Section 1 written in free verse symbolizing unknown & uncertain nature of death
  • Section 2 addresses Yeats suggesting Yeats continues to impact people's lives thorugh poetry
  • Section 3 written in iambic hexameter has definitive ideas about the power of poetry
  • Structure of poem elevates poetry as fusion of free verse & strict rhyme plays homage to innovation & tradition that Yeats worked with
  • Liquid imagery suggets poetry passes on a message uniting people
  • Imagery reflects historical context with reference to pre - war Europe
  • Metaphors of productivity suggest poetry is a healing, creative process
  • Powerful contrast between dying impotence of the poet & reviving power of verse
  • Hyperbole & elevated language elevate the work of the poet
  • Poem is conversational and symbolic balancing Yeats as a friend on a personal level and as a great poet
  • Poem suggests the most a poet can achieve is to be remembered by his admirers as his work becomes independent of him
26 of 27

In Memory of W.B. Yeats by W.H. Auden 2

  • Unrhymed free verse in Section 1 and rhythmical heptasyllabic couplets in Section 3 suggests free flow of emotion which becomes regulated
  • Sections suggests different approaches & stages of Yeats life
  • Metaphors, personification, alliteration & pathetic fallacy create indifference to Yeats death in first section
  • Opposite to the claim "poetry makes nothing happen" Auden concludes that poetry is inspirational
27 of 27


No comments have yet been made

Similar English Literature resources:

See all English Literature resources »See all resources »