english poems



  • 'A shatter'd visage lies'
  • 'Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
  • 'Colossal wreck'
  • 'The lone and level sands stretch far away'

Irony:                                                                                                                                        There's nothing left to show for the ruler's arrogant boadting or his great civilisation. The ruined statue can be seen as a symbol for the temporary nature of political power or human achievment. Shelley's use of irony reflects his hatred of opression and his belief that it is possible to oveerturn social and political power.                        

Language of power:                                                                                                                            the poem focuses on the power of ozymandias, representing human power.However his power has beem lost and is only visible due to powerof art. Ultimately, nature has ruined the statue, showing that nature and time have more more power than anything else.                        

Angry language: The tyranny of the ruler is suggested through aggressive language.

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  • 'Marks of wekaness, marks of woe.' Repetion to show feelings of bleekness.
  • 'The mind-forged manacles i hear.' Imagery to show that people are trapped by thoughts and attitudes
  • 'Runs in blood down palace walls.' Imagery might be a reference to french revolution
  • 'And blights with plauges the marriage hearse.' Powerful language

Rhetoric:                                                                                                                                              The narrator uses rehtorical language to persuade you of his point of view- he uses powerful, emotive words and images to reinforce the horror of the situation. Repetion is used to emphasise the number of people affected, and to show society needs to charge.

Use of senses:                                                                                                                                    The poem includes the depressing sights and sounds of the city- the first stanza is about what he sees, the second what he hears, and the last two stanzas combine visual and aural.

Contrasts: These are used to show everything affected and nothing pure or innocent remains.

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  • 'Individual war graves.'
  • 'Steeled the softeneing.'
  • 'The world overflowing/like a tresure chest.'
  • 'Released a song bird from its cage.'
  • 'hoping to hear/your playground voice catching on the wind.'

Use of the senses:                                                                                                                              The mother's seperation from her son is emphasised by the way she can't touch or hear him. she touches other things and listens for his voice "on the wind", but this can't replace her son.

War imagery:                                                                                                                                        Images of war and violence symbolises the son's new identity and the danger that he's in. References to "Armistice Sunday" and the "war memorial" make the reader question whether he is still alive.

Domestic imagery:                                                                                                                         The images of war are mixed with poignant images of home and family life.

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War Photographer


  • 'Spools of suffering set out in ordered rows.'.'
  • 'All flesh is grass./he has a job to do.'
  • 'A hundred agonies in black and white.'
  • 'They do not care.'

Religous imagery:                                                                                                                         The refernces to religon make it sound almost as if the photographer is a priest conducting a funeral when he's developing the photos- there's a sense of ceremony to his actions. 

Contrast:                                                                                                                                    "Rural England" is presented as a contrast to the war zones the photographer visits. The grieving widow is compared with people of England whose eyes only "pricked,/ with tears" at the pain. Ironically, the photographer is detached in the war zones but is affected at home.         

Emotive language:                                                                                                                         The poem is full of powerfull, emotive imagery which reflects the horrors of war seen by the photographer and captured in his photos. Like the photographer, Duffy tries to represent the true horror of conflict in her work in order to make the reader think about the subject.

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storm on the island


  • 'We are prepared: we build our houses squat.'
  • 'Spits like a tame cat/Turned savage'
  • 'Space is a salvo.'
  • 'It is a huge nothing that we fear.'

Contrasting descriptions of safety and fear: The narrator uses a lot of words to do with safety and security at the beggining of the poem. the tone changes though, and the senses of danger increases as familiar things become frightening during the storm.

Direct address: The narrator involves the reader in his fear by speaking directly to "you".

Violent address: The storm is described in violent, often warlike terms, with similies, metaphors and personification comining to emphasise the danger and effects of the storm.

Use of sounds: Forceful sounds (e.g. "blast") are used to demonstrate the strenght of nature, and the poem also uses assonat and sibiliant sounds to reflect the noise of the wind and waves.

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  • 'The merciless iced east winds that knive us'
  • 'But nothing happens.'
  • 'What are we doing here?'
  • 'Dawn massing in the east her melancholy army.'
  • 'Pale flakes with finger(ing) stealth come feeling are faces.'


The poem uses rehtorical questions to ask why the men are exposed to such dreadful conditions,a nd whether there's any point to their suffering.

Bleak language:

The poem includes lots of bleak imagery to remind the reader of the mem's pain, the awful weather and the lack of hope for the soldiers. Assonance, onomatopoeia and carefully chosen verbs add to the bleak mood and make the descriptions vivid and distressing.

Personification: Nature is repeatedly personified, making it seem the real enemy in the war

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my last Duchess


  • 'none puts by/The curtain i have drawn for you, but I.'
  • 'My gifts of nine-hindred-years-old name.'
  • 'and I choose/ never to stoop them.'
  • 'Then all smiles stopped together.'

Power and objectification:                                                                                                              The duke felt the need to have power and control over the Duchess. He saw her as another of his possesions,to be collected and admired, just like his expensive artworks.

Dramatic irony:                                                                                                                                The things the duke says about the Duchess seem quite innocent, buthey often have sinister meanings to the reader. There's a gap between what the Duke tells his listener, and what the poet allows us to read between the lines.

Status:                                                                                                                                          Status is really important to the duke. He cares about how others see him.

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The Prelude


  • 'my boat/went heaving through the wtare like a swan.'
  • 'a huge peak, black and huge.'
  • 'like a living thing/strode after me.'
  • 'a trouble to my dreams.'

Beautiful language:                                                                                                                       The poem begins with a series of pretty, pastoral images of nature.                                   

Confident language:                                                                                                                      The narrator appears sure of himself at first - almost arrogant in his view of himslef and his place in the world. He gives the impression of feeling powerful.                                                                      Dramatic Language:                                                                                                                      The initial glimpsesd of threatening language become more intense after the moubtain appears. The narrator comes to undersstand how powerful nature is                                                        Fearful language:                                                                                                                          The Narrator is far less confidentt at the end of the extract. He's troubled by the "huge and mighty forms" of nature he's glimpsed. The experience has a lasting haunting effect on him.

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Bayonet charge


  • 'Bullets smaking the belly out of the air.'
  • 'a rfile numb as a  smashed arm.'
  • 'In what cold clockwork of the stars and the nations/Was he the hand pointing that second?'
  • 'Like a man who has jumped up in the dark.'
  • 'King honour, human dignity,etcetera/Dropped like luxeries.'

 Violent imagery:                                                                                                                            There is some shocking imagery which brings home the sights and sounds of war. This helps to strongly convey the sense fo confusion and fear.                                 

Figurative language:                                                                                                                    The poem imcludes powerful figurative language to emphasise the horror and physical pain of the charge, and also question the point of war.

Natural imagery:                                                                                                                            The repeated references to the "green hedge" and the emotion of the "field" and "thresing circle" show the natural, agricultural setting of the war. The painful image of the "yellow hare" reminds the reader of how the natural world is also damged by war

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  • 'propbaly armed, possibly not.'
  • 'it rips through his life/I see broad daylight on the other side.'
  • 'End of story except not really.'
  • 'His blood-shadow stays on the street.'
  • 'his bloody life in my bloody hands.'
  • 'And the drink and drugs won't flush him out.'

Graphic imagery:                                                                                                                                The man's death is described in gory detail, with the implication that his "guts" have split out onto the ground. The imagery reminds the reader of the horrors of war, but also shows how desenitised to violence and death the speaker was at the time- they ahd becone part of his everyday life.               Colloquial language:                                                                                                                      The first four stanzas have lots of chatty, familiar language, which helps make the poem sound like someone telling a story. However, this language also trivializes the man's death.              Repetition:                                                                                                                                      Words are repeated to reflect the way that the killing is repeated in the speaker's mind

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  • 'might fly our lives like paper kites.'
  • 'let the daylight break/ through capitals.'
  • 'find a way to trace a grand design/ with living tissue.'
  • 'this/ is what could alter things.'

Language about light:                                                                                                                      Light is presented as a positive force- it enables people to see and understand, it can move through and beyond boundaries and it can break through objects.

Language about creation:                                                                                                              There are lots of references to things being created. Man-made constructions like buildings and border lines are compared with the creation of humans.                                                         

Different types of tissue:                                                                                                             The homonyms of 'tissue' create a link between paper and humans- both tissue paper and human tissue are fragile, but powerful.the word tissue used to meansomething that was woven proving that human lives are built up in layers

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The emigree


  • 'sick with tyrants.'
  • 'branded by an impression of sunlight.'
  • 'I can't get it of my tounge.'
  • 'There's no way back.'
  • 'I comb it's hair and love its shiny eyes.'

Language of conflict:  Vocabulary associated with war, invasion and tyranny shows that the city may not be as perfect as the speaker remeber it. In the second stanza, there's the sense that the speaker is defying the authorities by accessing her "child's vocabulary" that's been "banned."

Language about light: The city is described in bright, colourful terms, emphasing the speaker's feeling that it's a beautiful, positive place. The repeated link with "sunlight" suggests a vitality to the city.

Personification: The city is initially personified as being "sick with a tyrant". In the final stanza it appears to the speaker,, lies down and then later takes her dancing. describing the city in human terms empahsises the strenght of the speaker's love for it 

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checking out me history


  • 'Blind me to me own identity.'
  • 'toussaint/a slave/with vision'
  • 'dem never tell me bout Mary Seacole.'
  • 'a yellow surise/to the dying
  • i checkign out me own history/I carving out me identity.'

Methaphors of vision and blindness:

The narrator says that his education kept his true heritage hidden from him. Images of light are positive because they suggest an awareness of your own idenity.

Oral poetry features: The narrator uses techniques from oral poetry such as repetetion, strog rhythms, chanting and phonetic spelling. This links the poem to the oral tradition of reciting poetry aloud and telling stories, which are usred as ways of communicating history. THe use of caribbean phonetic spellings creates a sense of pride in his background, and the use of standard english in lines 46-49 empahsises that the figures from his carribean heritage should feature in the teaching of history.

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  • 'a shaven head of powerful incantations.'
  • 'like bunting/on a green-blue translucent sea.'
  • 'flashing silver as their bellies/swivelled towards the sun.'
  • 'they treated him/as though he no longer existed.'


There a ironic reminders of how the pilot has abonded his mission. They way he's treated when he returns to his family is ironic because they act as if he's daed even though he chose not to die.

Natural imagery:

Simlies, metahpors and detailed descriptions are used to emphasise the beuty and power of nature. The pilot's daughter hints that this beuty was one of the triggers for his actions.

Direct speech:

The addition of direct speech makes the poem seem more personnel. Hearing the daughters voice emphasises the impact of war on a specific family.

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