ENGLISH GCSE POETRY LOVE & RELATIONSHIPS

WHEN WE TWO PARTED

Tital directly addresses the addressee in their relationship. "We two" 1st PP; personal love.

[PAST] Sombre, sad, sorrowful tone: nostalgia. "Silence and tears"- betrayed, withdrawn, secrecy? Possibly too sad for words, nothing left to say? "Half broken hearted" - only one side affected? "pale grew thy cheek"- life gone out of her? Death imagery (of relationship). "Cold, cold grew thy iss" - passion gone out, no warmth of feeling or intimacy left. 

[PRESENT] "Dew of morning"- new beginnings; so traumatised even this brings a "chill': "warning of what i feel now"- feelings are completely metaphorically cold, separated from warmth; isolated. "vows are all broken"> promises of love?

[PRESENT] "A knell in my ear"; funeral bell; deathly feeling, deppressive, parting (from life). "Why wert thou so dear?" Rhetorical Q: nostalidia, helpless, looking back. "Knew thee too well-"- euphemism for lovers (affair, sexual relations, intimacy + secrets) CONTEXT- (followed by caesura of natural reflection. "long, long shall i rue thee"- 1: assonance of long "o" sound drags on, deep, sonorous, mimicks "knell", pain. 2: emphatic long vowel suggests length of time to get over her. "too deeply to tell"- words cant express pain; run to the core of him- must have "silence."

[FUTURE] linkage of passage of time emphasises the length. "that thy heart could forget" she didnt share sense of loss; he was unimportant. "thy spirit decieve"- he was different on the inside; everything he thought he loved about her was false. "After long years, how should i greet thee-" caesura shows thought and refelction. "with silence and tears."- cant further communicate with her he is so hurt; cyclical motion, "silence and tears" remain intact- passage of time hasnt done anything to heal him.

1 of 15

LOVE'S PHILOSOPHY

Abstract persuasive argument; that their coupling is natural: all of the natural world is in harmony  so they should be too- no one should be alone- nothing is single "Nothing in the world is single." --> Is about an approach to love, not a personal experience; doesn't capture intensity of emotion. poetic argument with beautifl imagery.

"Fountains mingle", "..and the rivers with the ocean", "Winds of heaven mix.": Natural imagery to convey harmony of interconectedness of the natural world. "Law divine."- Putting partnership in a religious light. "Why not I with thine?"-longing; simple, monsylabic language allows each word to be emphasised; simple questionmakes argument seem so simple. Persuasiveness added to by regular rhyme scheme "Ocean/emotion", as it adds rationality and sounds more correct.

"Mountains Kiss"- mountains represent their love; kissing is natural. "waves clasp one another"- personification if waves and mountains. Presenting nature as couples as an extended metaphor of relationships. "Sunlight clasps the earth", "Moonbeams kiss the sea." > lots of references to physical intimacy.

"What are all these kissing worth," repetision of "kiss" creates a sibillance affect, conjuring a demanding tone of playful arrogance. "If thou kiss not me?."; more direct: invitation- CONTEXT: inversion of women's roles; active character. inverson of subject in final line of each stanza implies reciprocated realtionship? has he persuaded her? Parallel phrases.

2 of 15

PORPHYRIA'S LOVER

Dramatic monologue: not spoken by poet- allows more manipulation of the reader. No name given for the speaker; defined by relationship. Passive, silent ******.                                                                                                                                   Patetic phallacy: reflects mood "rain" and "wind" "tore...and did its worst"(destructive implications) = ominous foreshadowing- projecting angry and gloomy feelings onto natural world. Porphyria contrasts to "lover" - purposeful, calm, brings light and warmth- acting verbs unlike passive narrator "glided", "kneeled", "made"(the cheerless grate balze up): brings warmth with her. Loosening + **********: "withdrew", "untied", "shoulder bare"; he is watching her- listing her actions in his head silently; creates intensity. Describes her as a "form" - no acknowledgement that she is a person- distant from her.

"Let her damp hair fall" - sensual imagery; sexual actions; CONTEXT- hair was considered very provocative. Lover is completely detatched/dissociated from own body(few personal pronouns present)- intense silence and passiveness "no voice replied, Porphyria engages all contact: "put my arm about her waist", "made my cheek lie there".                              Pace changes; longer, more emotive language, with verbs like "struggling", "dissever", speed up previous lulling tone. Insight into narrator's mind: jealous and possessive "give herself to me forever" - "minme, mine" . Anger seeps in "but passion sometimes would prevail" he thinks shes been sleeping with other men- so he thinks his love for her was "all in vain"- love meant nothing to her. Foreshadowing- waiting for action on his part due to fast pace, and action verbs "dissever" "restrain" "struggling".

"be sure I looked up at her eyes"> wanted to preserve her in that "moment" as she "worshipped" him; premeditative action- "one long yellow string I wound, three time her little neck around...and strangled her"- assonance mimcks the winding of her hair around her throat- disturbing nature of actions. Ending is most chilling: clonical detatchment+ disconnect with emotion; "I...opened her lids", "blushed bright beneath my burning kiss"- engages in physical intimacy and active charcacter once she is dead. He was dead while she was alive? - "and thus we sit together now"> she's been dead the whole poem.

3 of 15

SONNET 29 - 'I THINK OF THEE!'

Poem is written in one single stanza- shows how her thoughts surrounding himare flowing and growing metaphoricaly; this is highlighted with the use of emjambment: her thoughts flow between lines. > Browning avids a monotonous tone with iambic pentamener- breaks lines up with caesuras to creat pause. Exuberant tone.

"My thoughts do twine and bud." - metaphor for vines "as wild vines, about a tree" growing around a tree; her thoughts are embodied by the vines; idea also of a very natural, loving, physical embrace between them. Her husband is represented by the tree; a strong, study centre of her own growth. 

Idea that the reality of her lover is in danger of being lost or overlooked if she is too obsessed with her own feelings- her thoughts and metaphorical embrace are "hiding the wood' This concern shows she respects him: healthy love. She is afraid she is smothering him; will lose sight of who he realy is, "straggling green" echoes 'strangling'. Her thoughts are overpowering in intensity what she is thinking about > decides to break free. "I will not have my thoughts instead of thee"- prefers his physical presence. "who art dearer, better!" - excamation mark creates a dramatic affect; showes her passion, empasises superlative. one of the reasons she decided to break free.. possessive father: CONTEXT

"Rather" - volta; comes early - normally at half way, shows her longing and yearning for him to come back. images of him braking free "drop heavily down" "rustle thy boughs and set they trunk all bare"- "bare" connotes with liberation and also sensuality- echoes sensual references to song of Solomon "vines", "palm tree".

"insphere" echoes 'inspire', something which the Browing and her poet husband did for eachother to help develop their poetry.

4 of 15

NEUTRAL TONES

First and last lines of each stanza rhyme- suggests unity, however since they aren't together and instead so far apart they serve to represent distance and separation; reflecting that of a couple. Indentations of the final lines slow the pace down; making mood more sombre- also draws attention to the line: more dramatic. First three stanzas are focused on the past; presented through memory like description- ast stanza is in the present, time past represented with elipsis. Structurally important: poem starts and ends with image of pond- that day was pivotal moment in relationship. Pond is significant; emblem of their love.

"Winter day" - feelings towards eachother were cold. "sun was white (as though chidden of God"- metaphor, sun is drained of warmth and colour, like the love in their relationship, "chidden" - turns something usually warm and bright into something bleak and depressing. "Leaves lay", "Starving sod" lack of physical movement emphasised by aliteration: lifeless atmoshpere - Sympathetic background: reflects feelings. "ash" fire/passion has burnt out.

"your eyes on me...rove" - positive things shown negatively; "rove" is a slow movement- boredom- emjambment mimick this. 

"smile on your mouth was the deadest thing" -oxymoron: highlght lack of feeling or emotion. Describing her smile as "dead" shows how grief-stricken he is at her for not loving him. Negative about life itself: "alive enough...to die"- only strength left is to die- very cynical and bitter. "ominous bird a-wing"- bird represents her love + thier realtionship fying away/fleeting nature.

Caesura: time passes. Narrator can no longer trust lovers or love itself "lessons" taught him this; pessimistc generalisation. "wrings with wrong"- aliterationechoes repetitive pain and anquish. "God-curst sun" refelcts previous sentiment, but "curst" is more powerful (harsh 't')- narrator has become bitter over time. "greyish leaves"- absence of colour and feeling; love has decayed, leaves are rotting.

5 of 15

LETTERS FROM YORKSHIRE

Exploration of urban versus rural life: is one more "real"? Poem about communication across physical distance but also emotional closeness (intimacy in sharing details in letters); two are contrasting.

"digging...planting potatoes" - alliteration; repetitive and ordinary action- list of actions of labour ceat a steady, purposeful rythmn, created by commas- broken up by mention of "lapwings" > migratory birds; literally function as the first sign of spring; inclusion of them in friends letter signifies mutual love of nature + small things that bring them joy "knuckles singing"> affect of cold on his knuckles? Satisfaction of working purposely. (this in common may mean the birds reminded him of her?) - the man is observant: connected with outdoors + nature

"seeing the seasons...turning"- enjambment signifies change of seasons. "Heartful of headlines"- man with emotional and physical attatcment whereas her "headlines" are the only defining thing she can hold close. "blank screen"- colourless and fruitles; not enriching like she percieves his lifestyle. Rhetorical Question "is your life more real because you dig and sow?"- questions value of the working world. ("you wouldnt say so" - supports her decision to move CONTEXT - Dooley moved from the countryside to pursue career in London.

"word of that other world" - alliteration between "word/world"- not only sound similar phonetically, but also reflect how his words make the poet feel closer to the world, but the distance between the words in the phrase act as a reminder that she is physically distant from it. Internal rhymes "light" and "night" show an around the clock connection- "same news in different houses" display the shared experience that made him feel closer.

"Our souls tap out messages across icy miles"- "souls" -deep and meaningful connection; spiritual imagery

6 of 15

THE FARMER'S BRIDE

Dramatic monologue- iambic tetameter, irregular rhyme scheme tries to mimick an authentic natural voice: rural farmer> uses rural dialect "runned away". References of different seasons "summer", "winer", "fall"- still havent connected. "I chose a maid" - practical outlook on marriage "more's to do" than dwell on how young she is. "Like the shut of a winter's day, her smile went out"- simile; like the shut of windows, idea of a candle going out- crisp 't' of shut makes an abrupt sound. "'twasn't a woman, more like a frightned fay"- alliteration of soft 'f' makes her more fragile.

"we chased her" "we caught her"

"Mouse", "rabbits" - sense of vulnerability, prey. By comparing her to animal, not humans, it shows how he views her as 'other' and uses animal imagery to illustrate her otherness

"ive heardly heard her speak at all"- Bride isnt given a name and doesn't speak- keeps with her characterisation as shy- but CONTEXTually she doesn't need a voice; demonstrates marginalisation of women in a patriarchal society

"rabbit" connotes with small stature + slender frame - implied by "mouse", also connotes with natural speed +agility, sense of admiration and almost tenderness from farmer: small defenceless animal. Imagery used to relate her to animals, link to her physical attributes "hare" + "hair" = phonetically similar, "soft younng down" of her hair reflects downy fur of rabbits. > longing to touch her- tactile imagery "soft."

Refers to her as "she"(third PP) instead of 'her'- either marginalisation of women, she is first and formost his bride and therefore a passive charcter OR lack of her identity id because she is so afraid of him he cant talk to her, so he talks about her to the reader.

7 of 15

WALKING AWAY

"eighteen years ago, almost to the day"- the moment of the memory is still so vivid and fresh; the detailed description is almost as if the past has come alive again. The date is also significant; implication of a precious memory. "touch-lines new ruled" the use of liminal space may suggest his son has crossed the boundary from being very young and dependent, to independence. 

Day uses hyperbolic space imagery "like a satellite being wrenched from its orbit"- A satellite orbits a larger body – for example the Earth. This simile suggests that the child is a small being, attached by gravitational force to the parent, and Day finds it almost as if the natural order of this arrangement of dependence has been distorted upon his son's first move "drifting away" to independence.

not wanting to let him gi into the "wilderness" of life- the idea of the unknown, "finds no path"- reminds us that life isnt mapped out easily.

Implication of shyness "behind a scatter of boys". "half fledged thing"- We think of young birds as being ‘half-fledged’ when they are not quite ready to leave the parent bird’s nest. Applying this image to the child reminds the reader that nature also separates parents from their children when the latter reach maturity. more natural imager "seed", "parent stem" - support

The simple, regular rhyme scheme uses simple, often monosyllabic rhymes "day", "play", "away", which lends a melancholic tone to the poem, as if these feelings are uncomplex, but still raw. The slow regularity of the rhyme scheme possibly refelct how the inevitable separation didnt happen in a hurry, it was slow paced and gradual, like the rythmn of the poem

1st PP make the poem directly addressed to the addressee, making it much more intimate and personal. The poet reaches a comclusion of acceptance of the separation, it is an inevitable part of a relationship between parent and child.

 

 

8 of 15

EDEN ROCK

Title: religious reference to the Garden of Eden- suggests the place holds special significance or even sacred quality to the poet? "rock"- stable, comforting foundation? or sharp and barren?

Use of present tense in poem suggests tim ehas stood still+ adds to a dream like quality > "somewhere beyond Eden Rock"- vague description hints that this is an imagned scene. Poet takes comfort in the familiarity of his parents; vivid detail "genuine irish tweed" "terrier Jack, just two years old" > nostalic and bittersweet image

Intro if each parent in first two stanzas mirror each other- reflecting a closeness in their relationship. "sprigged dress", "ribbon on her straw hat" - small details show how precious this memory of his mother is to him. "white" connotes with purity, the image of sunlight shining through her hair "her hair...takes on the light" evokes an ethereal and almost angelic quality.

detailed descriptions of ordinary things show their importance to the narrator+ the affection he has for his parents and the way they did things; "She purs tea from a Thermos". "slowly sets out the same three plates" soft sibillance create a calm and leisurly pace of their actions.

"the sky whitens as if lit by three suns"- hints at the undertone of otherworldliness; an almost heavenly light contrasts to the previously ordinary descritions; suns my also symbolise their family reuniting? Use of caesuras highlight nostalgic feel

"other bank", "stream-path" possibly a metaphor for crossing over to death. 

Monosyllabic language of the last line creates a child-like simplicity: the meaning of the final line is ambiguous; he may be preparing to die, or just looking back on his parents memory with sadness. the endng is left open to interpretation.

9 of 15

FOLLOWER

Heaney acts as the narrator as a young child. "Horse plough"- locates the poem in an earlier, simpler time. "Globed"- emphasises father's sheer strength and power. Crisp clean sounds of initial stanzas present his father as an expert of his profession, highlighted by enjambment "clicking", "Steel-pointed", "pluck". His father's skill seen with contrast of "strained" to describe the horse, and "clicking" to describe hisactions: can control horse with a mere "click". --> details all point to precious memory; admired his expertise.

"Sail strung", "wing", "back into land", "mapping", "dipping and rising" (like a boat on the ocean)- ship and sailing imagery: present act of farming in and exciting manner> fater is also the captain of their own little ship. "sail strung", bold sound; boys enthusiam for profession. cumulative affect adds childish excitement.

Heaney hints that he may not be as good as his father. half rhymes "wake" and "back"- suggest he feels he cant fully emulate father- falls short "stumbles", "fell". nouns still are close, like their relationship. He only every compliments father though. Heaney dignifies fathers labour "polished" ;  connotes with jewels and precious stones- makes it seem beautiful. > also implies that everything his father does turns out to be something priceless: romanticeses and revers him.

poem holds a regular, steady and purposeful rythmn, adds to sense of purpose and strength.

10 of 15

MOTHER, ANY DISTANCE

Steady practicle and prosaic rythmn in initial stanzas- in which he describes practicle tasks he is doing with his mother: seemingly mundane practicle task into a symbolic moment- demonstrating close relationship "a second pair of hands" to show connection. >>> also shows tension between dependence and independednce - uses literal and practicle tasks to show conflicting attitides

uses measurements foe extended metaphor for distance between them- the distances are vast and expansive"acres", "prairies'. Armitage uses a "spool of tape" as a metaphor to represent time running out; list of dwindling measurements "length...metres...centimetres"- reflcting how fast the poet feel time has run out. + spool of tape can also be attatchment to the mother to the son, desperatly trying to hold onto him- evokes images of umbilical chord: ultimate connection between mother and child.

Imagery of cowboys: "prairie" illustrates a youthful, boyish excitement due to the vast size of the prairies, creating  slightly hyperbolic tone as the prairies are used to describe the floor through this metaphor, but also showing a child'sview: where everything seems much larger in size. >> this excitement shows his eagerness at the prospect of leaving home and entering new territory. playfullness pervades the poemwith astronaut imagery "space-walk"- metaphor for exploration, but literally describes measuring- reminder that all children grow up.

"Anchor.Kite"- short, single word sentences placed in centre of poem: focal point. Juxtaposed together but separated by full stop- unconventional use of punctuation implying separation between the two. "Kite" reflects the poet; connected to ground, impulse to be free and soar high: high hopes and ambitions. string = tape measure, showing that is is the son moving away from the mother. "Anchor" is mother grounding him, solid, reliable- security, antagonistic objects reflect opposing impulses of mother and son. END "last one hundreth of an inch" tape getting shorter; last moments- elipsis represents letting go.

11 of 15

BEOFRE YOU WERE MINE

Title; 2nd PP "you" adds intimacy; direct address to mother. Poem is a gift: acknowledgement of her fun-filled youth- a tribute to her livliness, energy and exuberance; almost as if she is keeping her mother's "ghost's" youth and vitality alive.                                                                            

First stanza: very descriptive, vivd image- "shriek", "bend from the waist"- lively and fun - half rhymes of "laugh" and "Duff" reinforce joy.

Semantic field of imagery of glamour and Hollywood "glamorous", "ballroom" (with a thousand eyes- either centre of attention or a glitterball) , "Marilyn", "sparkle". > celebrate her mother's youth; cumulative affect. CONTEXT mother born in post WWll; romance + cinematic production, happy endings > couldnt live as boldly or freely once she was born- "the decade ahead of my loud, possessive yell was the best one?"

Lighthearted and lively nature "sparkle", "fizzy" and the endearment "sweetheart" to capture her attitude in the for, of a tribute. - uphold vitality - Duffy uses descriptive imagery to paint a powerfully evocative image of her mother getting ready to go out "clear as scent"; simile evokes perfume -  and onomatapoeic "clatter" of her "high heeled red shoes" both highlight her defining attributes, even though scent is intanglible. 

Cycical structure:thoughts framed with title- each stanza represents time passing, love continues and endures

12 of 15

WINTER SWANS

1st person narration: personal experience. Pathetic phallacy in first stanza reflects troubled nature of relationship "two days of rain". "then a break"- signifies hope or love shining through? Pauses between stanzas highlight silence between couple, but due to enjambment, there is no full break; sense of continuity and consistency: their relationship- pauses also slow pace down, to mimick their slow, reflective walk

"swans"- symbols of long lasting, deeply intimate love; represent unity (always referred to in the plural) and peace and harmony "tipping in unison", "boats righting". "they halved themselves"- the swans complete one another. Swans represent purity "white", "porcelain" and embody gentle unity of nature.                                                                                                                 Swans act as a catalyst for the reconcilliation of the two to bring them gently together.

"slow-stepping": soft, sibillant 's' sounds may represent the softening in feelings for eachother > softness also evokes an idea of tenderness. "our hands had, somehow, swum the distance between us."; subconcious instinct to follow emotions; deep unity. "swum" echoes "swan"- linking the couples love to that of the birds

Lines are irregular and unrhymed; disjoined rythmn may represent discord and confilct between the couple. All the stanzas are three lines long, except for the last; which is a couplet, telling us that they have reconclied as a couple; the stanza drawn short as they have agreed to be together again: strength of their love highighted by couplet.

13 of 15

SINGH SONG!

Title: witty pun of the implied surname of the narrator- immediately establishes jolly, lighthearted nature of th poem- 

Eye dialect; words are spelled phonetically- how they would be pronounced by someone with a thick indian/ asian accent (forces reader to read in the accent) - adds comic value as it playfully mocks race + is also a celebration of the culture and accent. "Daddy's"- infantile language> idea of youth and excitement = funny metaphor to act as a euphemism of their intimacy "like vee rowing through Putney" --> fast rythmn at start reflects bustling shop.

"my bride"- repeated to convey pride in her. Vivid descriptions: Has a non stereotypical way of dressing"red crew cut", "tartan sari" and attitude towards Singh's parents "she effing at my mum in all the colours of Punjabi"- is not a submissive, traditional, respectful daughter-in-law. Visual imagery : "tartan", "red". 

Diction develops: romance and love + transformative nature of their love reflected in the short, monosyllabic language at the start of the poem "do di lock" which develops into more emotive and poetic language ; "whispering stairs" > sibilance establishes sense of quietness.

Setting is a small, run down corner shop in an unnamed town - representative of any poor urban setting in the UK, is turned into a magical place by their love- with "silver stools" and "whispering stairs", "concrete precincts" become "beaches". Previously fast rythmn of the bustling shop in the day contrasts sharply with the quiet emptiness of the shop in the evening, to give a heightned sense of intimacy between to couple.

The ending of the poem changes into couplets to emphasise the romance of their love through a more poetic, or even "song" like rythmn- slows rythmn right down to evoke a more quiet, romantic and private and intimate atmoshpere. Focus of poem is soley on the bride.

14 of 15

CLIMBING MY GRANDFATHER

Autobiographical element; written from the perspective of granson: "climbing" is in a clearly metaphorical sense however it evokes an image of a small child literally "climbing" their grandfather. Poet exploits the idea of mountaineering through and extended metaphor to draw paralells between a kind, old grandfather and a craggy mountain. > climbing real mountains is challenging- is the grandfather difficult to get on with? is he cold?

Places his feet "gently" in old stitches- tenderness and affection apparent. Sees and admires his grandfather in a strong, way "firm shoulder"- connotes with sturdy and reliable. Affection: "smiling mouth". Breaks climbing metaphor with the description of his "rown eyes" to show their significance- one of the things that he most remembers, favorite quality of grandfather?

Powerful visual: "his thick hair (soft and white at this altitude)" : mimicks the image of snow on a mountain; "altitude suggests height but also that he is at the pinnacle of his life.

Childhood memories: through comparing the grandfather to a mountain, an image that he towers over the narrator is created (may also be height or way to sybolise he is at the pinnacle of his life) - subtly expressed

Determination: hints of determination that suggest the narrator finds the relationship with his grandfather hard; "climbing has its dangers", "gasping for breath"- physical exertion/ challenge, like relationship?

Family relationships: A very close relationship is conveyed by the detail of the grandfather's body; "firm shoulder", "smiling mouth", "glassy ridge of a scar". The narrators close relationship with his grandfather is implied in the passion and detail he is describing his grandfather with- his passion about climbing - seen through climbing terminology "rope", "net", "traverse" is also projected onto his grandfather.

15 of 15

Comments

No comments have yet been made

Similar English Literature resources:

See all English Literature resources »See all AQA Anthology resources »