Edexcel 9-1 GCSE English Literature Poetry Anthology Relationships


La Belle Dame Sans Merci 1819 (1)

Author: John Keats 

Story:  2 first person speakers. A knight narrates his encounter with a femme fatale character and how this lead to his love sickness/death.

Themes: Love, Death, Enchantment

Tone: Super Natural, Melancholic, Deathly

  • Form + Structure
    • Ballad - Love song
    • Last Line shorter, dimeter - Knights life is cut short
    • Regular rhyme and cyclical nature - death is inevitable and inescapable
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La Belle Dame Sans Merci 1819 (2)

  • Language:
    • Archaic Language Helps with medieval setting "ail thee" "steed" "thy"
    • Repetition of pale - Knight is dying "palely loitering" "pale" "death pale"
    • Metaphors of death - Knight is dying "I see a lily on thy brow" "fading rose"
    • Pathetic fallacy - Foreshadows knights death "The sedge has withered from the lake" "no birds sing"
  • Context
    • Keats knew he was dying of TB in his 20s while writing this poem, his brother had also died of TB 2 years before
    • "A faery's song" could depict the woman as a siren from Greek mythology. Sirens would seduce sailors with songs and they then died in the water trying to swim to them

Compare to: She Walks In Beauty, A Complaint

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A Child To His Sick Grandfather 1790 (1)

Author: Joanna Baillie

Story: A 1st person child speaker, speaks to his silent aging/dying grandfather

Themes: Powerfull emotion, Loss, Innocence, Memory

Tone: Nostalgic, Sad, Regretful

Form + Structure:

  • Shortened last lines - Grandfather's life is ebbing away
  • Contrast between past and present - sense of loss "you used to smile" "you take me seldom on your knee"
  • Final couplet breaks from rhyme - Grandfather is dead?
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A Child To His Sick Grandfather 1790 (2)

  • Language
    • Repetition of dad - Reflects child speaker and closeness in relationship
    • Vivid description of grandfather - emphasises age "old and frail" "lank and thin"
    • Symbolism of fire - Suggests grandfather's fire is going out, coldness and death "and when the weary fire turns blue"
  • Context
    • Emotional topic in this poem is typical of romantic poems from this era
    • Female poets were unusual at this time, and this captures the domestic subject

Compare to: My Father Would Not Show Us

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She Walks In Beauty 1814 (1)

Author: Lord Byron

Story: Third Person speaker celebrates the physical and inner beauty of an unnamed woman.

Themes: Beauty/appearance, Admiration, Wonder

Tone: Reverential, Enchanted

  • Form + Structure
    • Regular rhythm and rhyme (tetrameter, ABABA) - Rhythm of walking, faultless like the woman being described
    • Present tense - sense of immediacy and continuity of love
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She Walks In Beauty 1814 (2)

  • Language
    • Simile "like the night" - vast, uncontained, unimaginable
    • Alliteration and assonance - create rich sounding patterns "cloudless climes and starry skies"
    • Repeated opposites (antithesis) - may highlight speakers confusion and lack of comprehension "dark and bright" 
  • Context
    • Byron was a famous womaniser. This poem is believed to be based on a woman in a black spangled gown at a London party.
    • Romantic poet and era, Emotion and sentiment

Compare to: La Belle Dame Sans Merci, My Last Duchess, Love's Dog

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A Complaint 1807 (1)

Author: William Wordsworth

Story: 1st person speaker recounts a past relationship that is now over

Themes: Loss, Change, Emotion

Tone: Nostalgic, Sad, Mournfull

  • Form + Structure:
    • Cyclic - opens and closes with a focus on change." there is a change" "such change"
    • Past and Present - contrast between past and present helps evoke a sense of loss "blest was I then" "I am poor"
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A Complaint 1807 (2)

  • Language:
    • Title and formal language - "A Complaint" and "business" show that this relationship was more formal, a friendship rather than romantic
    • Extended metaphor of water - Starts as "a fountain" and becomes a "hidden well" showing the reduction and death of a relationship. Wordsworth cannot live without water. "murmuring, sparkling, living love"
  • Context:
    • Wordsworth had recently fallen out with one of his very good friends and collaborators, Taylor Coleridge

Compare to: Neutral Tones, One Flesh

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Neutral Tones 1898 (1)

Author: Thomas Hardy

Story: 1st person speaker reflects on a moment when they realised the love was dead in their relationship. They consider what meaning this moment means to them now.

Themes: Memory, Loss of love

Tone: Emotionless, Neutral

  • Form + Structure
    • Straightforward rhyme - ABBA neutral and simple
    • Rhythm is inconsistent - echoes rocky relationship
    • No future tense - there is no future after this
    • Cyclical structure - always revisits memory, stuck in his mind
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Neutral Tones 1898 (2)

  • Language
    • Ambiguous words - reflect title "grayish" "a few" 
    • Dead Dull and Wintery setting - "winter" "white" "starving" "gray" "bitterness" reflecting thoughts on relationship
  • Context
    • Hardy faced many disappointing personal relationships
    • Published over 20 years after it was written
      • memory, distance from the relationship

Compare to: A Complaint, Sonnett 43, One Flesh

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Sonnet 43 1850 (1)

Author: Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Story: 1st person speaker has a passionate outpouring of passionate love

Themes: Passionate love, All powerful love

Tone: Breathless, Excited

  • Form + Structure:
    • Petrarchan Sonnet - typical love poem, brevity increases intensity
    • Heavy punctuationgives freedom and flow to rigid tetrameter
    • Regular rhyme and rhythm - perfect love
    • Only 2 full stops - everlasting love
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Sonnet 43 1850 (2)

  • Language
    • Anaphoric repetition of "I love thee" - reflects devotion nd persistence
    • Syndetic list "depth and breadth and height" - shows vastness of love
    • Smile "my lost saints" - lover is a spiritual saviour
  • Context
    • 43rd of 44 sonnets
    • Addressed to her future husband Robert Browning
      • parents wouldn't let her marry
      • "my old griefs" references her parents making this poem autobiographical

Compare to: She Walks In beauty, i wanna be yours, Love's Dog

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My Last Duchess 1842 (1)

Author: Robert Browning

Story: 1st person speaker, a Duke, addressed a count who is forced to be silent. He describes his late wife using a portrait in his house.

Themes: Jealousy, Control

Tone: Controlled, Arrogant

  • Form + Structure:
    • Dramatic monologe - 56 lines long shows how  controlling and dominant he is
    • Heroic Couplets - Controlling
    • Variety of punctuation - to reflect unrehearsed speech
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My Last Duchess 1842 (2)

  • Langauge
    • Lots of personal pronouns "my" "I" - arrogance and self-centered nature
    • Euphemisms - "a heart too soon made glad" he thinks his wife was unfaithful "then all smiles stopped" the Duke's true feelings
  • Context:
    • Based on real life historical figures
      • Lucrezia de Medici died aged 17 from poisoning not uncommon in Italian families

Compare to: La Belle Dame Sans Merci

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1st date - She 1st Date - He 2011 (1)

Author: Wendy Cope

Story: 2 1st person silent monologues reveal the thoughts of 2 individuals on a date.

Themes: Appearance and Reality, Romance, Tension

Tone: Upbeat, Humorous, Nervous Excitement

  • Form + Structure
    • Layout - poems side by side allows the reader to see the how similar the two people are in what they think. reflects them sitting next to each other
    • Tetrameter rhythm - Speed reflecting nervousness of speakers
    • Short lines - nervous excitement
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1st date - She 1st Date - He 2011 (2)

  • Language
    • Repetition between 2 monologues - points to closeness of thoughts but lack of honesty to each other "It wasn't exactly a lie" "It wasn't entirely untrue"
    • Use of formal language and colloquialisms - shows how the speakers are trying to show off "too besotted" "out of my league"
    • Use of cliches - Shows how ordinary they are despite how much they show off "lost in the music" "face it's a picture"
  • Context
    • Social conventions of dating
    • Cope is best known for her witty humour

Compare to: Neutral Tones, A Complaint, Valentine

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Valentine 1993 (1)

Author: Carol Ann Duffy

Story: 1st person speaker dismisses stereotypical images and gestures of love

Themes: Danger of Love, appearance and reality

Tone: Frank, Honest, Bitter

  • Form +Structure
    • Free Verse - reflects unconventional content, love isn't pre-planned, confusion of emotions
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Valentine 1993 (2)

  • Language
    • Alliteration - "cute card" "red rose" reflects over use of normal gifts
    • Extended metaphor of an onion as love - "moon wrapped in brown paper" the moonlight is romantic, beautiful inside "wobbling photo of grief" heartbreak and tears "Its scent will cling to your fingers" love ties you down and stays with you forever "its platinum loops shrink to a wedding ring...Lethal" love and marriage can kill you
  • Context
    • Conventional saccharine ('sugary sweet') images of love

Compare to: i wanna be yours, 1st Date She 1st Date He 

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One Flesh 1966 (1)

Author: Elizabeth Jennings

Story: 3rd person speaker describes the growing distance in her parent's relationship as they grow older

Themes: Mature love, Separation, Time, Loss of love

Tone: Personal, Regretful, Formal

  • Form + Structure:
    • Final couplet - breaks from the rhyming couplet trend and suggests the final break or separation between the parents
    • Iambic Pentameter - Serious subject
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One Flesh 1966 (2)

  • Language
    • Caesura throughout - "elsewhere - it is as if they wait" "How cool they lie. They hardly ever touch" shows how separate the 2 parents are.
    • Antithesis - "apart" and "together", "fire" and "cold", "light" and "shadow" difference between the two of them, emphasis
    • Simile "like flotsam" - flotsam is wreckage and debris after a shipwreck, remains of a relationship
    • Simile "she like a girl" - childlike, looking to the past
  • Context
    • One Flesh is a biblical reference to marriage
    • This is about Jennings' own parents

Compare to: My Father Would Not Show Us, Neutral Tones

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i wanna be yours 1983 (1)

Author: John Cooper Clarke

Story: 1st Person speaker tells of the lengths they would go to to be with someone

Themes: All consuming love

Tone: Light Hearted, Upbeat, Heartfelt

  • Form + Structure:
    • No punctuation - no breaks, informal, breathlessness
    • Irregular rhyme and rhythm - reflects punk movement (Clarke described as punk poet), disregard for rules and convention
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i wanna be yours 1983 (2)

  • Language:
    • Slang - breathlessness, hurry to express feelings "wanna" 
    • Metaphors to everyday objects - informal, accessible, willing to become an object "let me be your coffee pot" "let me be the electric heater"
    • Anaphoric repetition of "let me be your" - obsession, devotion
    • Metaphor "deep as the deep atlantic ocean" - love is vast
  • Context
    • His work was often set to music
      • inspired Artic Monkeys song i wanna be yours
    • Known as the Punk Poet
    • "It is the classic thing of the desire to make yourself useful...to the point where you're actually reducing yourself to a commodity" - John Cooper Clarke

Compare to: Valentine, Sonnet 43

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Love's Dog 2008 (1)

Author: Jen Hadfield

Story: 1st person speaker reflects both the good and bad aspects of love

Themes: Duality of love and hate

Tone: Light hearted, Wary

  • Form + Structure:
    • Couplets - two sides of love
    • Inconsistent rhythm - unsure if love or hate
    • Rhyme breaks down - reflects breakdown of love
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Love's Dog 2008 (2)

  • Langauge:
    • Anaphoric repetition of "what I" - provides comparison
    • Metaphors - each line has a metaphor to depict a different aspect of love
      • "Love about love is its zookeeper - you" - physical displays of love
      • "loathe about love is its burnt toast and bonemeal" - bitterness and being discarded
  • Context
    • Written in response to the opening line of Edwin Morgan's poem "What I hate about love is its dog"
      • "It speaks of the effort and deliberation of love" - Jen Hadfield

Compare to: Valentine

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Nettles 1980 (1)

Author: Vernon Scannell

Story: 1st person speaker uses war imagery to describe his son's fall in a bed of nettles and how he goes on to deal with the nettles

Themes: Parenting, War and Conflict

Tone: Military, Aggressive (towards nettles, cannot protect his son forever)

  • Form + Structure:
    • Iambic Pentameter - reflects serious subject
    • Regular rhyme - military precision
    • Cyclical - repetition of first rhyming word and idea of the nettle bed, never ending cycle of harm and hurt to his son
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Nettles 1980 (2)

  • Langauge
    • Language reflecting vivid images and gore - "raw" "slashed" "fury" shows the intense rage and emotion behind the father's actions
    • Extended metaphor of the nettles as soldiers - "recruits" "the fallen dead" "parade" "regiment" furthers the military theme of the poem
  • Context
    • Scannel fought in the army but deserted twice. Was finally court-martialled in 1947 when he devoted the rest of his life to writing

Compare to: The Manhunt

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The Manhunt 2008 (1)

Author: Simon Armitage

Story: 1st person speaker goes through her husband's physical and mental injuries using metaphors after his return from war.

Themes: mental and physical strain on a couple

Tone: Tender, Protective

  • Form + Structure:
    • Couplets - small steps to his recovery
    • Irregular Rhythm - no day in his recovery is the same
    • Rhyme breaks down - after the first 3 couplets the rhyme deteriorates mirroring the deterioration in his mental and physical condition
  • Langauge 1
    • Metaphors to describe his physical condition - "blown hinge of his lower jaw" "unexploded mine buried deep in his mind" - PTSD
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The Manhunt 2008 (2)

  • Language 2
    • Language reflecting the military theme of title - extended metaphor
      • "first phase"
      • "climb"
      • "explore"
      • "trace"
      • "widened the search"
    • Anaphora of "and" and "only then" - "and" - cumulative effect of injuries, "only then" - lengthens recovery
  • Context
    • Broadcast in a documentary "Forgotten Heroes: The Not Dead" and read by a military wife 
    • Long lasting effects of war like traditional war poetry

Compare to: Nettles

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My Father Would Not Show Us 1988 (1)

Author: Ingrid de Kok

Story: Daughter recounts the time surrounding her father's death and his refusal to open up

Themes: Death, Loss, Grief, Memory

Tone: Melancholic, Depressing

  • Form+ Structure
    • Irregular rhyme and rhythm - lack of security and predictability in this situation
    • 1st person - possibly autobiographical
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My Father Would Not Show Us 1988 (2)

  • Language
    • Repetition of "He __ He" - emphasis on the unknown and fear of loss
      • "He hid, he hid away"
      • "he lay inside, he lay"
      • "He turned, he turned away"
    • Anaphoric Repetition of "My Father" - emphasis on personal relationship
    • Metaphor "florists flowers curling into spring" - symbol of flowers being brought for illness and flowers dying reflecting his death
  • Context
    • Possibly autobiographical and about de Kok's own father

Compare to: A Child To His Sick Grandfather, A Complaint

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life saver and well put!!!!!!! thank youuuuuuuu



holy moly this is amaze thankyouu so much nothing else like this anywhere 



Amazing but for some poems not all poems have all the possible themes: such as the theme of nettles for nature.



Words can't express how thankful I am for this!



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Thanks so muchh

A Bit Not Good


This is fantastic, you're a lifesaver. For those looking for analysis on conflict poems, I can recommend this PDF from GetRevising.



One of the best, contains everything that is helpful






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Olivia C


Thank you, you are amazing!!! 

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Edit: 9= Double A*



the only reason i passed English



I had been looking everywhere for some flashcards and I found this set. Thank you so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :) :) 

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