English Literature Poetry

This includes the pre-1914 poetry and Heaney and Clarke

  • Storm on the Island
  • Death of a Naturalist
  • Digging
  • At a Potato Digging
  • Catrin
  • A Difficult Birth
  • The Field-Mouse
  • Cold Knap Lake
  • On my first Sonne
  • The Affliction of Margaret
  • Patrolling Barnegat
  • Sonnet

Good luck! ***

  • Created by: Rebecca
  • Created on: 19-05-11 10:47

Storm on the Island (language)

  • We are prepared: we build our houses squat
    • We - involves reader, can empathise with fear of storm
    • monosyllabic - apprehension, strength, harsh sounding
    • squat - half rhyme with slate (disjointed/confusion of storm)
  • as you can see
    • colloquial, almost relaxed mood, ironic
    • involves reader (2nd person)
  • pummels
    • personifies wind
    • aggressive plosive sound, violence of weather
    • almost onomatopoeic
  • spits like a tame cat/ Turned savage
    • simile: cat should be innocent, ironic
    • enjambment enhance sudden change, unpredicatble
    • onomatopoeia of spits conveys aggression
    • sibilance gives clear idea of the noise
    • personifies storm
    • spits/hits internal rhyme: bombarding sound, heightens tension
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  • Exploding comfortably
    • oxymoron: mixed feelings towards nature
    • violence, military imagery
    • nature's comfort brings them discomfort, ironic
  • dives/ And strafes ... salvo
    • military imagery
    • violence of storm
    • humans are in battle with nature
  • Strange, it is huge nothing that we fear
    • huge nothing is an oxymoron - confusion, disjointed perception
    • poem ends with the word fear, resonates with reader
    • fear/air: half-rhyme, sense of unease and discomfort
    • half rhyme makes it unpredictable like the storm
    • caesura prompts reader to contemplate
    • short sentence, perhaps panic, lack of flow, no safety
  • Constant use of present tense throughout increases the drama and makes it more frightening, it also involves the reader because it's happening NOW
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Storm on the Island (structure)

  • iambic pentameter
    • strong rhythm, echoes sounds of the storm
    • suggestive of heart beat, maybe panic
    • heart beat hints at how close the islanders are to nature
  • blank verse (no rhyme)
    • unpredictability of nature
    • disjointed sense of unease
    • is their preparation futile if they don't know what's coming?

Good comparison with Patrolling Barnegat

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Death of a Naturalist (language)

  •   strong gauze of sound around the smell
    • sibilance conveys buzzing of flies
    • appeals to all senses, reader can imagine themselves at the scene
  • but best of all there was the warm thick slobber
    • seems comforted by 'warmth'
    • plosive alliteration perhaps suggests excitement
    • childlike terminology suggests innocence
  • On shelves at school, and wait and watch until
    • alliteration builds suspense
    • enjambment splits line after until, further building suspense
    • alliteration could suggest excitement
  • daddy frog ... mammy frog
    • childlike innocence
    • colloquial terms
    • perhaps the teacher speaks in a patronising tone
    • ironic when he knows 'you could tell the weather by frogs' as though adult simplicity diminishes his interest
    • personifies frogs, he thinks they're friendly, relationship with nature
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  • In rain
    • isolation, sudden chang
    • transition into negative perspective represented by large gap
    • pathetic fallacy to suggest change in mood
  • grenades, vengeance, Invaded
    • military semantic field, in battle with nature
    • agressive similes, fear of nature
    • contrasts with previous personification
  • slap and plop
    • onomatopoeia
    • childlike perspective
  • I sickened, turned, and ran
    • caesuras and list convey panic
    • this is the moment his love of nature is destroyed
    • first person involves reader with this fear and disgust
  • cowdung, festered, rotted, rank
    • semantic field of death and decay
    • death of love of nature
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Death of a Naturalist (structure)

  • iambic pentameter changes to disjointed rhythm
    • loss of comfort in nature
    • sense of unease
    • loss of routine
    • confused emotions about nature
  • two distinct stanzas
    • represent positive and negative perspective on nature
    • show sudden jump in perspective
  • enjambment
    • unpredictability of nature
    • flow of emotions
    • sense of unease, more difficult to read
    • building suspense and tension
  • no regular rhyme scheme
    • confused emotions
  • Title
    • dramatic - attracts the reader
    • ironic - how can a child be a naturalist?
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Digging (language)

  • The squat pen rests; snug as a gun
    • squat - shouldn't be there, doesn't belong
    • monosyllabic - reflects rhythm of digging/writing
    • rests - suggests comfort, happy writing poetry
    • simile of gun: weapon, danger, damaging to relationship, anger
  • sound/ground
    • rhyme: tries to show father ability as a poet
    • reflects how father is at one with the land
  • window
    • metaphorical? invisible divide
    • division emphasised by enjambment across stanzas 2-3
    • perhaps suggests the strain on their relationship, becoming distant
    • window can form a reflection, he reflects digging through writing
  • By God, the old man could handle a spade
    • hard 'd' sound, rhythmic digging
    • exclamation: awe, wonder appreciation
    • 'the': no use of possessive, distance
    • direct plea to father
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  • Through living roots awaken in my head
    • metaphorical: explores culture and traditions through poetry
    • roots underground linked to cultural roots
    • both support something beautiful: poetry/crops
  • I'll dig with it
    • short, monosyllabic sentence
    • simplicity of decision
    • determination to follow dream
    • direct link between trades
  • lug, shaft, drill
    • technical vocabulary
    • directly aimed at father
    • doesn't want to seem patronising
    • he acknowledges that both trades require skill and doesn't want to undermine his father's hard work
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Digging (structure)

  • enjambment
    • difficult to read: difficult for Heaney to tell father his thoughts
    • flow of words, pent up emotion is finally being expressed
    • suggests how he's thinking and then remembers another detail about when his father would dig
    • between 2nd and 3rd stanza perhaps shows gap in time looking back of memory of gap between him and his father
  • irregular length of stanzas
    • difference between father and son
    • no regularity of his memory of father's digging
  • half-rhyme
    • thumb/gun, ground/down, edge/head
    • tension between them
    • they are similar yet they have differences like father and son
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At a Potato Digging (language)

  • A mechanical digger wrecks the drill
    • hard plosive, aggression
    • machines damage land
    • destruction, battle with land
    • they now must rely on technology
  • Labourers swarm
    • suggests vast numbers
    • link to flies: nuisance, hints at omen of death
  • Like crows attacking crow-black fields
    • simile
    • omen of death
    • repetition: thoughts of death are surrounding
    • aggression and violence to nature, military imagery
  • stand/ Tall
    • enjambment
    • unending arduous work
    • discomfort, suffering
    • fragmented lives
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  • black/ Mother
    • importance, capital
    • giver of life, when she become '*****' life is gone
    • protector
    • you only have mother, the land is all they have to rely on
  • Processional, ritual, god, homage, altar
    • religious semantic field
    • they are controlled by the land
    • they must appease the land or it will punish them
  • Like inflated pebbles
    • simile
    • strength
    • cold and hard
    • ironic: potatoes should provide life, stone is lifeless
  • shot and clotted
    • assonance builds tension
    • shows how close the link is between potatoes and land
    • sense of belonging
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  • piled in pits; live skulls, blind-eyed
    • plosive alliteration
    • pain and suffering
    • monosyllabic: brutality, unease, tension
    • ambiguity, humans or potatoes?
    • repetition later clarifies that humans are also dead
    • shows closeness of potatoes and humans, reliance
  • 'forty five
    • doesn't specify date because it's so infamous to the Irish
    • almost colloquial
    • directly appeals to those who suffered
  • you still smel the running sore
    • second person
    • directly involves read, provokes empathy for suffering
  • white flotilla of gulls ... white bread
    • white contrasts with black, hope, goodness?
    • flotilla: military imagery, nature is still in battle
    • gulls: seabird, no longer rely on land
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At a Potato Digging (structure)

  • Part 1
    • regular rhyme (ABAB) and iambic pentameter
    • reflects rhythm of digging
    • suggests the routine is regular, predictable and comforting
    • present tense involves reader; it's happening now
  • Part 2
    • more irregular rhyme and rhythm
    • reflects different sizes of potatoes
    • hints at fragmentation of live caused by famine
  • Part 3
    • half-rhyme (AABB)
    • discomfort that famine brings
    • disjointed lives, sense of unease
    • longest stanza reflects length of suffering
  • Part 4
    • regular rhyme scheme returns but rhythm remains irregular
    • normality hasn't yet returned
    • ends on half-rhyme: sense of mistrust, incomplete
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Catrin (language)

  • first/ Fierce confrontation
    • strong emotive language
    • shows friction between mother and daughter
    • hard fricative sounds
  • Red rope of love
    • metaphor for relationship, umbilical and also remaining bond
    • red associated with love, passion yet also anger
    • alliteration of red rope suggests strength
    • rope is natural and strong, suggests bond between mum and daughter is too
    • rope can create friction
    • link to noose 'tightening about my life' relationship ties both down and restricts them
    • boat tied to anchor, can move but will always come back
    • flexibility of rope, mum and daughter adapt to each other
  • rosy / Defiant glare
    • mother seems proud of defiance
    • Defiance at start of line, negativity dominates
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  • wild, tender circles
    • oxymoron: conflicting feelings
    • circles, cycle of relationship, alwasy come back to each other
    • represents pools of blood on hospital floor
  • We want, we shouted, / To be two, to be ourselves
    • fragmentation of sentence, desire to be separate
    • enjambment shows divide between mother and daughter
    • repetition reinforces strong feelings, adamant, we - shows unity,
  • glass tank clouded with feelings
    • confinement of relationship
    • emotions block vision, emotions can cloud your judgement
    • glass tank, fragility of relationship
    • metaphorical barrier between mother and daughter and outside world
    • representative of the hospital
  • strong, long
    • internal rhyme gives sense that daughter is perfect
    • gives a sense of flow, flow of awe at daughter's beauty?
    • makes this part particularly memorable
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Catrin (structure)

  • enjambment
    • flow of emotions in the relationship
    • overlap between mother and daughter, closeness
    • less easy to read, tension, sense of unease
    • neverending love in spite of 'struggle'
  • no regular rhyme scheme
    • unpredictability of the relationship
    • tension between mother and daughter
    • no real sense of unity
    • break out of typical poetry style like she wants to break free from restraints of relationship
  • fairly regular 7-syllable lines
    • create fairly regular rhythm
    • like a heart beat, strength of relationship
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A Difficult Birth (language)

  • barren
    • no hope
    • perhaps linked to the virgin birth
    • miraculous, unexpected
  • she's serious, restless and hoofing the straw
    • sibilance shows tension
    • use of a list hints at sense of unease
    • both techniques increase the pace and increase excitement/apprehension as we await birth
  • tamed by pain .... lies down again
    • half-rhyme give sense of unease
    • hints at tension
    • Irish no longer care for original ideas, just want to relieve pain
    • rhyme unites the two scenarios: Peace Deal and lamb's birth
  • burning tongue
    • metaphorical
    • intense pain
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  • lamb, Good Friday, the stone rolled away 
    • link to Biblical story of the resurrection
    • forgiveness of past sins
    • symbolises new life, hope
    • perhaps ironic given war had basis in religion
  • salty ocean
    • salt water is healing, resolution of war
    • loss of separation (ocean)
  • well-meaning, knowing best, with their needles and forceps
    • sarcastic tone, condemns medical intervention
    • cold, metallic aggression of needles and forceps
    • could symbolise weapons in war
    • perhaps if it was left to the women, war would be resolved easier
    • male intervention brings discomfort, adheres to her feminist beliefs
    • contrasts with 'I ease my fingers in' - she is at one with nature
  • the second lamb slips through her opened door
    • metaphorical
    • first step is the hardest then it will get easier, pain will be relieved
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The Field-Mouse (language)

  • long grass is a snare drum
    • sibilance echoes sound of drum, increase the pace, hints at tension
    • simile to snare drum hints at war
    • monosyllabic style creates beat of the drum, increases the pace
  • air hums with jets
    • metaphor - hints at war
    • surrounding sound
  • wave breaks before the tractor blade
    • plosive alliteration is aggressive, violent, relates to war
    • machines damage the land, weapons cause pain
    • metaphor: wave is something beautiful and natural
  • chance gift of sweetness
    • happinessunity of neighbours
    • unity enhances fertility of land, sustainable for the future, new life
  • curls in agony as big as itself
    • metaphor, incredible suffering, consuming pain
    • curls suggests vulnerability
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  • the star goes out in its eye
    • loss of light
    • loss of hope
    • darkness suggests fear, evil
    • stars are the source of life
  • children kneel
    • suggests sorrow, prayer
    • vulnerability, children are the ones who suffer in war
    • knee deep, involved in suffering
  • field lies bleeding
    • personification, pain and suffering
    • focus is on territory, land
  • the children dance ... bones brittle as mouse-ribs
    • plosive alliteration, violence of war, fragility
    • children linked to mouse, both are victims (war and harvest)
    • dance hints at celebration, but it's only a dream
    • does dance hint at their bodies falling in machine gun fire
    • harvest means no grass left to protect children, exposed to gunfire
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  • stammering with gunfire
    • personification
    • almost onomatopoeic, bombards reader with sound
    • perhaps suggests hesitancy of war, don't want to cause harm?
    • military semantic field
  • wounding my land with stones
    • personification of land, victim of war
    • soft consonant sounds, vulnerability
    • stones cause infertility
    • effect of war on future generations, loss of life
    • epitomizes idea of how closely war impacts people - MY land
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The Field-Mouse (structure)

  • no rhyme
    • sense of unease between people in war
    • no unity, division
    • war is unpredictable, always waiting to see what happens, tension
    • ongoing damage linked to war
  • enjambment
    • overlaps the story of mouse and hints of war, links the two
    • creates discomfort
    • last stanza: neighbour turned / stranger - sudden, unexpected
  • 3 stanzas of equal length
    • suggests the two scenarios are similar
    • uniform length, hints at military
    • shows distinction between before, during and after harvest
    • perhaps suggests division between people in war
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Cold Knap Lake (language)

  • Cold Knap Lake
    • cold hints at fear and death
    • monosyllabic, hard sounds
  • drowned child, lay for dead
    • initially suggests she's dead
    • then hints at hope
  • dressed in water's long green silk
    • metaphor
    • beauty of nature/death
    • death brings comfort and luxury
    • contrasts with 'wartime cotton frock' poor, reminder of suffering in war
  • kneeling, bowed
    • religious imagery
    • hints at miraculous actions of Clarke's mother
    • hints at value of the child, worship
  • gave a stranger's child her breath
    • Biblical parallel, God gives Adam life
    • hints at resurrection
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  • drawn by the dread of it
    • monosyllabic, echoes how the crowd is frozen in shock
    • plosive alliteration suggests fear and doom
  • child breathed, bleating / and rosy
    • metaphor of bleating, suggests lamb
    • perhaps links to Jesus' resurrection
    • rosy suggests warmth that mother brings - linked to hair which is red, contrasts with 'blue-lipped', suggests love
  • Was I there?
    • rhetorical question involves reader
    • reader contemplates, looks back on own memory too
    • short, monosyllabic style shows how Clarke stops to think
  • shadowy under the dipped fingers of willows
    • memory is murky
    • try to explore memory just stirs it up and makes it cloudier
    • some details are clear (long green silk) others are vague (crowd)
    • personification of trees, hints to a fairytale
    • is our memory influenced by stories we hear or read?
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  • treading, heavy webs of swans/ as their wings beat and whistle on the air
    • assonance give vivid idea of sound, involves the reader
    • imitate flapping of wings and swans in flight
    • contrasts beauty of wings with violent webs
    • webs may also hint at the tangle of our memories
    • suggests the aggressive side of swans, did they try to take the girl to an under water kingdom? would this kingdom have been more beautiful than the thrashing and pain of earthly life?
  • satiny mud blooms in cloudiness 
    • satiny reminds us of water's silk
    • beauty of silk and flowers contrasts with mud
    • perhaps beautiful memories become tainted, we no longer remember them as they originally were
    • sibilance creates tranquility, reflecting the poet's contemplative tone
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Cold Knap Lake (structure)

  • half rhyme: silk/lake, earth/breath
    • disjointed memory
    • discomfort felt by drowning girl
  • stanzas: 4, 6, 4, 6, 2
    • perhaps represent different layers of memory
    • poem begins vivid and becomes vague
    • suggests layers at top are clear, below is murk, time reduces clarity
    • rhyming couplet: water/daugter
    • sense of completion
    • eerie, resonates with the reader
    • connects the fairytale with the real event
    • suggests closeness of water and daughter, was she meant to drown to become united with nature?
  • irregular rhythm: disjointed memory
  • enjambment
    • blur of memory
    • flow of memory, as though she keeps remembering different aspects
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On my first Sonne (language)

  • Farewell, thou child of my right hand
    • heir, will inherit father's wealth
    • closeness of father and son
    • link to Jesus, right hand of the Father
    • directly addresses son, increases sympathy, shows closeness
  • lent to me, and I thee pay
    • idea that son is lent from God
    • taken on the just day, perhaps like Jesus
  • O could I loose all father, now
    • exclamation shows despair
    • lose belief in God
    • lose ability to be a father
  • fleshes rage
    • anger and violence on Earth
    • humans (flesh) cause violence and suffering
    • should be happy that death has brought escape from evil of world
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  • soft peace
    • juxtaposed with fleshes rage, contrast of Heaven and Earth
    • sibilance creates a gentle soothing tone
  • best piece of poetrie
    • metaphor: son was a work of art
    • suggests that Jonson made him, contradicts previous idea
    • plosive alliteration, unity, comfort, perfection
    • metaphor is memorable, remains with the reader
  • what he loves may never like too much
    • doesn't want to ever like anything as much as son to avoid pain
    • presented almost like a proverb
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On my first Sonne (structure)

  • Incomplete sonnet form
    • reflects how son's life was incomplete
    • can't bear to complete another poem now that his 'best piece of poetrie' has died
    • his life is now incomplete without his son
    • breaks formal poem structure of the time
  • regular rhyme scheme
    • unity he felt with his son
    • ties together words joy/boy, suggests his son brought him much joy
  • iambic pentameter
    • reflects heartbeat, suggests love of son
    • regular beat, echoes life of son
    • places emphasises on important words: child, joy, rage, peace etc.
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The Affliction of Margaret (language) ... hate thi

  • Where art thou
    • repetition
    • rhetorical question, prompts response from reader
    • direct plea to son
  • alas! Ah! Oh!
    • melodramatic response
    • exaggeration of grief, wants sympathy from public
    • shows desperation
  • An object beauteous to behold
    • awe and adoration of son
    • metaphor: sees him as a possession
  • I sent him forth / Ingenuous, innocent, and bold
    • not proud of him but proud of how she made him
    • list shows endless good qualities of son - pride, love
  • Weeping for him when no one knew
    • ironic - her grief was very public (They pity me)
    • intense sorrow
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  • fowls of Heaven have wings ... Chains tie us down by land and sea
    • heaven brings relief from burde, wings - birds, freedom, light, comfort
    • chains - heavy, burden, restraint, lack of freedom
    • perhaps son ties her to Earth, wondering where he is
    • relationship is like chains, cold, hard, restrictive
  • maimed, mangled by inhuman men
    • alliteration shows how her imagination runs wild
    • list and alliteration increase pace to show panic and worry
    • oxymoron of inhuman men suggests woman's confusion
  • my, me, I
    • personal pronouns give a tone of self-pity
  • do not dread thy mother's door
    • hints that in the past she has done something to cause such dread
  • Ghosts
    • contradicts Christian faith
    • loss of belief, despair
  • Him
    • capital shows importance and also links to God
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The Affliction of Margaret (structure)

  • regular rhyme scheme
    • adheres to social norm, perhaps grief is just to adhere to society's expectations and obtain sympathy
    • flow of emotion
    • plea to son appears carefully thought out
  • iambic quatrameter
    • regularity and sense of routine to her grief
  • length of poem
    • reflects long suffering
    • reader is subject to similar suffering by reading it (maybe don't mention that in the exam!!)
  • simple vocab
    • seems almost like a nursery rhyme
    • maybe she didn't spend time with him as child + wants to make up now
    • direcly appeals to son
    • perhaps patronising
  • not specific qualities/names of son
    • generalised poem of a mother losing a child
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Patrolling Barnegat (language)

  • demoniac laughter
    • oxymoron, sense of discomfort brought by storm
    • demoniac is first, evil is dominant
    • storm makes happy things seem evil
    • personification: storm is mocking as people are 'struggling'
    • link to the devil, evil, powerful force
    • storm delights in causing suffering
  • piercing and pealing
    • plosive alliteration, aggression and violence of storm
    • almost onomatopoeic, involves reader, feels like they're at the scene
  • savagest trinity
    • metaphor: comparison with God
    • yet savage implies anti-trinity and therefore the devil
    • powerful force, controls them, they have no control over weather
    • violence, almost animalistic
    • primitive desire of nature to inflict harm
    • later repeated, surrounding force of nature is everywhere, attack keeps coming
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  • slush and sand spirts of snow fierce slanting
    • sibilance reflects hissing of wind
    • increases pace and tension
  • (That in the distance! is that a wreck? is the red signal flaring?)
    • rhetorical questions involve reader
    • questions attack the reader like the storm attacks the poet
    • short sentences suggest fear, panic and tension
    • exclamation shows how scared the poet feels
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Patrolling Barnegat (structure)

  • 'ing'
    • unchanging nature of the weather
    • it's happening now, involves the reader
    • seems ongoing, neverending fear
    • not a stressed syllable so only creates half-rhyme
  • no rhyme
    • unpredicatble nature of the weather
    • sense of unease and discomfort
  • sonnet form (14 lines)
    • ironic that it's a love poem
    • perhaps this suggests that the storm is wild and intense, like love
  • iambic hexameter
    • unusual in English - lines sound extra long to our ear
    • creates a tense atmosphere, uncomfortable to listen to
    • reader can feel empathy for poet's discomfort
    • ongoing length of the storm
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Sonnet (language)

  • white wool sack clouds
    • simile compares to another natural thing, unity of nature
    • purity of nature
    • comfort and warmth
    • white is repeated to suggest unity and innocence
  • stain with gold
    • value of nature, precious, treasure
  • And, I love
    • repetition shows neverending love of nature
    • starts each line, dominant
    • flow of emotions
    • simple terms, conveys simplicity of nature
  • clear
    • repetition
    • emphasises transparency, simplicity and clarity of nature
  • bright beetle ... play
    • personified, at one with nature, innocence of playing, joyful
    • alliteration, poet's excitement and fascination of nature
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Sonnet (structure)

  • regular sonnet
    • love poem, conveys Clare's love for nature
  • regular rhyme
    • makes all aspects of nature fit together
    • creates a sense of unity
    • makes the poem simple and memorable, echoing simplicity of nature
  • iambic pentameter
    • heartbeat, how close Clare is to nature
    • rhythm, seems alive
    • emphasises important particular words: love, white, gold, play, clear
  • no caesuras
    • breathlessness, shows extent of love
    • flow of emotion, can't control love of nature
    • no breaks between aspects of nature, all one united body
    • nature is unchanging and eternal
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Wow! Just what i was looking for - so detailed. Thankyou! 



I'm glad you like it :)



can you do a version for carol anne duffy and armitage



I'm sorry, I've not done those poems :(



these are really good :)

Rachel A


This is really good ! I gave it full marks however I do have an issue with it... Some of the words are missing as the document seems to cut it out. For exam page 5 + 6 you can notice it the most however there are some pages you don't but can tell some of the bullet points are missing. I don't want to sound demanding but could you make this into a word document because its really good !



Thank you for doing this! it is really helpful:)

Ellianna Gibbs


Thank you, this is very useful! Will help with last minute cramming for the exam tomorrow!



I've just did 2 poems one about Dulce et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen and another by Phillip Larkin which is called MCMXIV which means 1914 in Latin.

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