Poetry Anthology


La Belle continued

Structure: First 3 paras from travilers POV, remaining 9 in Knights POV. Opens with traviler asking Knight a question, ends with Knight answering the question using exam same words as first stanza. 

The title translates as, ‘The beautiful lady without mercy’, introducing the enchanting but cruel lady in the poem. This creates an ominous tone right from the beginning as this is not what the reader might traditionally expect from a courtly ballad.

The flower imagery used emphasises how pale and haggard the knight looks. eg the metaphor, "I see a lily on thy brow" conveys his paleness. The lily is also the flower associated with death and therefore contributes to the deathly feel of the poem. 

Context: Keats wrote about love from the perspective of a young man in love himself. he experienced a doomed love affair and was in bad health- also relates to negative effects of this poem. 

Compare with- She walks in Beauty- old fashion love from male to women perspective

My last Duchess- olden day english- mystery of a love story 

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La Belle Dans Sans Merci

"Alone and palely loitering", a knight tells of his meeting with a beautiful, mysterious woman. She seduces him into riding away with her to a magical place, leaving the reality of this world behind.

He is warned about the mysterious woman by those she has previously seduced, then wakes up from the dream alone and abandoned. The poem ends uncertainly with the Knight returning to his world of reality where he is tormented by the memory of the beautiful lady without pity (""sans merci")".

Theme: appearances are deceptive 

Form: Ballad- medieval (hence set in medieval times)- ballads designed to keep readers/ listeners engaged and so repitition used- ballads are designed to be sung. Written in quatrains with half/full rhyme in lines 2 and 4 

Tone: Poem begins in a light-hearting loving tone however changes for the last 3.5 paragraphs to dark and angry tone- sensing betrayal

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A Child to his Sick Grandfather

overview: a child speaking to his dying grandad- reminiscing on memories with him, what he's like now etc...  Tone- sad tone about near death however whenever something sad is said, something positive is said after eg 'To sit beside you dad.' Context: bailie was a romantic poet so focuses strongly on emotions and is very concerned with ones feelings. 

Form- 8 sestets- iambic tetrameter allows the poet to express a lot of emotions. The last line of each stanza has 6 beats (shortest) which intensifies emotion

Structure- 4th stanza out of 8 is writing about how the people eg neighbours are concerned for him instead of focusing on the narrators memories and feelings like the rest of the stanzaz. The fact that its embedded proves that this is just as important as the rest of the stanzas. Ends with the impression that he has passed away ' you do not hear me, dad.' 6/8 of stanzas last word-dad

Child in disbelief that the grandfather is going to die- "I'll lead you kindly by the hand." he does a list of things he'll do- almost as if if he does them, it will prevent his death. 

theme- love, devotion, bereavement, reminiscence, loyalty. Compare- My father would not show us- paternal relationships from childs pov. 

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She Walks in Beauty

She Walks in Beauty is a short eighteen line poem celebrating female beauty. The beauty of the woman the speaker describes is in both her external appearance and her inner goodness. Although it might generally be classified as a love poem the poet never actually declares that love. He concentrates on the subject’s captivating attractiveness and purity.

Themes: Appearance- Byron chooses to describe her using non romantiscied images eg 'raven' instead of flower. Light- he chooses to mention light and its antithisis of dark to try and create an image that her beauty is so out of this world. 

Form: Lyric poem. 

Structure: 3 regular sestets- regular rhyme scheme ababab. Regular rhythm emphasisis the regularity of the subjects walk- faultless perfection. Use of emjambment as though the poet can not stop to catch his breath when talking about her beauty. finally uses the word love on the last line, so hes waited until the last line to express his love however you can tell all the way through that he is in love. 

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She Walks in Beauty continued

Language: The poet uses rich and varied language which draws attention to itself through literary devices such as alliteration and assonance. The last word of every line in the first stanza has a 'i' vowel sound- assonance. 

Antithesis is used on a number of occasions eg ‘One shade the more, one ray the less’. In this line 'shade' is contrasted with 'ray' and 'more' with 'less'. This repeated use of opposites may highlight the confusion in the speaker’s mind as he tries to come to terms with trying to describe the woman’s overpowering attractiveness – something which is basically beyond words.

Context: Byron is believed to have been inspired to write the poem after seeing a girl with great looks at a london party. Therefore very personal poem which relates to personal situation

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Compare SWIB with Neutral Tones


Both are written by male poets and concentrate on a central, unidentified female figure.
The unidentified figure has had a deep effect on both speakers (even if this seems to be being denied in the Hardy poem).
Both poems reflect on a significant moment in the speaker’s life.
Both poems make use of imagery to convey the speaker’s feelings towards the woman.DifferencesThe speaker in Hardy’s poem looks back at a love that has died, whereas Byron’s poem concentrates on an attraction that has only just begun.
Hardy’s poem sets out to downplay the effect the person has on them. Byron’s poem fully acknowledges and expresses that effect.
NT focuses on a memory of something in the past; SWIB is about a more recent and immediate encounter.
The poems are different in tone. The title of Hardy’s claims it is neutral but there is a distinct air of regret about it. Byron’s poem is mostly positive and celebratory.

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A Complaint

Narrator reminiscing on a past relationship- about how he now believes his life to be worthless and that he has nothing left. 

Theme- theres a theme of water which runs throughout as water can almost be associated with love. Water is vital, it is always changing- can sometimes be calm and happy eg duck pond or dangerous like stormy sea. 

Mention of Fountain- has connotations of large lively, exciting which is all the things a relationship should be. he speaks about this when reminiscing in 1st stanza. Moves on to speak about a well- juxtaposes with fountain as 'comfortless and hidden.' wells can be empty, useless and dead- thats what he feels like without love. So you can see the importance of love to him. 

form- narrative form- 1st person, personal Structure- 3 sestets. half past, half present tense- comparison between what he used to feel like and what he feels like now. Opens with 'and i am poor' and closes with 'hath made me poor.'- this intensifies his feelings and almost makes it sound like a story explaining why he is poor. 

Context: He fell in love with a French woman and she had a child. Wordsworth returned to England before his daughter, Caroline, was born and war between Britain and France meant that he didn't see his daughter or her mother for many years.- maybe about loss of them???

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A complaint compare with neutral tones

similarities- first couple of stanzas both in past tense, both 1st hand experience, both open and close on the same line, both convey loss of love- fallen,hidden. Both include rhyme, both reminise good parts of their relationships. Both have themes of water. 

differences- nt uses colour to show depression, ac uses images of water. Ac rhyming goes ababcc. nt goes abba- has shorter stanzas and its less emotional. Ac at the end of each line writes soft words whereas nt writes harsher words. ac desribes poor and drought, nt describes winter and colours (but both have connotations of bareness). Ac never mentions the couple together but in nt theres mentions of them together. 

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Neutral Tones

The speaker reflects back to a particular moment in their life when they realised that the love had died between them and the person they were in a relationship with. They consider what this moment has meant to them since.

Theme- memory, moment in the past where they stood by a pond, the final stanza is a reflection on the lasting power of that memory. Loss of love- far from being a conventional love poem, deals with death of love and feeling of loss

The speaker does not reach a conclusion about who is to blame for the end of the relationship and remains neutral- hence referring to the title. doesnt pass comment on who was to blame, just speaks about situation. 

'your eyes on me were as eyes that rove.' - eyes are important in love poems- suggesting cold affection and suspision. 

Form- quatrains, the most simplest form. 

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Neutral Tones continued

Structure- 4 stanzas, following rhyme scheme abba. straightforward rhyme scheme contribute to straight forward style of poem- reflects back to neutral in title. Rhythmic pattern isnt consistent- uncomfortable situation. 2nd last line broken up- portrays unease. 

Opens and closes with same line- a pond. 

Despite the title’s claim, there is a clear pattern of negative words which runs through the poem (‘lost’, ‘deadest’, ‘die’, ‘bitterness’, ‘ominous’). Some of the words and phrases used by Hardy are deliberately ambiguous 

Imagery- set in winter and dull colours are mentioned- all negative connotations, unusual for a love poem. 

Context: Famous for the pessimistic tone in his writing, Hardy faced many disappointments in his personal relationships. It is unclear whether this poem refers to a specific relationship he had or whether it is a more generalised feeling about his associations with women.

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Sonnet 43

Sonnet 43 is part of a longer sonnet sequence of 44 sonnets called Sonnets from the Portuguese. Sonnet 43 is adressed to her husband Robert Browning. 

Structure: Sonnet 43 is the length of a traditional sonnet (14 lines) but otherwise does not follow the rules. There is a fairly regular rhyme scheme, but this is flexible, and Browning often makes use of assonance (for example "Praise" and "Faith"), which is striking because the poem is about defining the perfect love, and yet the poem avoids perfection


  •  The poem makes use of repetition"I love thee" is used eight times and reflects the devotion the poet feels for her lover as well as the persistent nature of that love. Repitition also used at 'depth and breath and height' - gives the impression shes so caught up in her words shes struggling for breath. 
  • Love is compared to weighty and serious things eg Grace and Praise- Browning capitalises these words- emphasising them. 
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Sonnet 43 continued

The opening rhetorical question implies a conversation between lovers, and the exclamation mark at the end of the first line makes the poem seem lighthearted and playful. 

Lines become frequently broken up by punctuation by the end of the poem, another suggestion that the speaker is excited.

Themes and Ideas: Sonnet 43 presents the idea of love as powerful

The poem is autobiographical: it refers to "my old griefs". (Browning had strong disagreements with her parents and was eventually disinherited.)

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comparing sonnet 43

Compare with neutral tones- this poem focuses on endearment and never ending love as shes prepared to go to extremes whereas neutral tones has a theme of dark colours and a love that is stale and starved of passion 

Compare with La Belle- whereas keats presents effects of love in a negative way, browning has a highly positive view- how do i love thee

Keats sees falling in love as an illness but browning determined to explore love and effects.

Keats language sees love as destructive, leads to death whereas browning sees death as something that cannot destroy the power of love. 

Both poems deal with aspects of romanticism. 

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My Last Duchess

Context: Browning is best known for his use of the dramatic monologueMy Last Duchess is an example of this and it also reflects Browning's love of history and European culture as the story is based on the life of an Italian Duke from the sixteenth century. Browning used to live in Italy with Elizabeth Barrett Browning. 

Form: This is one of Browning's best known dramatic monologues

The poem is written in iambic pentameter (the rhythm of each line is 'de-dum', five times) and in rhyming couplets.

Structure: One long continuous stanza- almost like a conversation. It is divided up into rhyming couplets but to mimic unrehearsed speech there are lots of twists and turns within the lines, shown by a variety of punctuation (colons and lots of dashes as well as the usual commas and full stops). There is a prolongued intro, lines 1-14 build up suspense about what happened to the wife.

The sense of rhyme is almost lost because there is so much emjambment. Lots of stopping and starting and so loses rhythm and hard to read without sounding full of yourself. 

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My Last Duchess continued

Ironic as the whole poem is criticism of his late wife however towards the end you start to feel sorry for her instead because of the Duke's arrogance. 

Compare: La Belle- negative views about love, mysterious female figure, theme of death 

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1st Date- She 1st Date-He

Context: Wendy Cope usually writes in a humorous and light hearted style. 

Form: 2 poems, written in quatrains, rhyme scheme-abcb. Written from female perspective and male perspective- allows to see mirrored feelings. 'He' is longer than 'She' by a stanza- perhaps he has more to say or is more confident

They both have insecurities- the female more, however are both attracted to eachother and trying to impress one another by false impressions- appearance vs reality. 

caesura used quite a lot- intensify emotions. 

Title includes the info that its a 1st date so we immediately recognise awkwardness and that they dont know eachother too well. 

Both try and gain empathy by expressing their innequalities

Structure: both open with same line- some lines repeated in both poems, show contrast. 

Compare with La Belle- appearance vs reality, false identities to impress for love- however endings different. 

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Context: Carol Ann Duffy is a feminist so perhaps feels strongly against ideas such as valentines day as traditionally gifts and flowers are given to the lady. 

Valentine describes a gift for a lover, such as you would give on Valentine’s Day. It is a rather unusual present – an onion. The poem explains why it is a powerful gift of love, much more than the clichéd roses or box of chocolates. The onion becomes a metaphor for love, and so the poem is about love as well as Valentine gifts.

Form: Written in free verse- varying length of stanza's can range from one line. echoes different layers of an onion. There is a sense in which Valentine is within the tradition of list poems, as the speaker tells you what the onion is, and then what it is like. 

Written in first person in direct address to 'you' however were unsure who you is. 

The language of the poem is quite simple and straight-forward, particularly in the clear sentence structures that are often repeated. This reflects the idea of it being an honest love. And basic- like the gift of an onion. 

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Valentine continued

The title deceives what the poem is about, however the 1st stanza immediately reveals that its not stereotypical love poem. 

There is a strong sense of danger in this poem- onion will blind you, cling to your knife etc perhaps suggesting love is destructive, painful etc. 

'It's" is used throughout the poem- its unsur whether its is referring to love or the onion. Onion literally, love symbolically. 

Only alliteration is in cute card and red roses- the cliched love gifts. Perhaps she implying alliteration is a cliche in romantic poems. 

Compare with Love's Dog- unusual comparisons to love. 

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One Flesh

Elizabeth Jennings was christian hence some religous themes portrayed. 

Narrated by a child talking about their parents relationship- how they no longer have a spark between them. In 3rd person view so not emotionally involved, however childs emotions can be seen, through rhetorical question on last line. 

The wife feels awkward and dreams of he childhood again, whereas husband is completely oblivious. 

written in 3 sestets-1st stanza describes current situation, 2nd looks at past and future and 3rd child concludes that their parents love is lost and dead. Only in 2nd last line are we told who the narrator is (the child)- creates suspense. 

ends in rhetorical question about how the child is confused and has come to realisation that they cant save parents relationship. 

Irony of title as one flesh depicts that the poem is about how close a couple are. 

Compare with neutral tones- how a love has become dead. 

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I wanna be yours

John Cooper Clarke is a punk rock poet

let me be- anaphora shows desperation

written in 3 stanza's 2 octaves and one 13 lines one (the last one)

adressing 'your' as in a lover

wants to be unstereotypical objects to show deep layers of meaning

opening line- let me be your vacuum cleaner- unusual so grabs attention

ababcccd rhyme schemefor first two stanzas, rhyme scheme starts to become irregular towards end of poem- perhaps getting excited in declaring love

i wanna be yours is the last line of every stanza, intensifies just how much he wants it. 

irregular rhythm just like irregular comparisons to love

compare with loves dog or valentine 

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Love's Dog

love is like an enigma- the only way to understand it is to look at the positives and negatives

The poem is imitated and inspired by another poem

Written in couplets allows to looks at all the different areas 

love is like a dog ownership, theres good things associated with it, but also comes with a lot of baggage. 

The poem speaks to us through imagery. 

Rhyme scheme is irregular- goes well with the irregular comparrisons of love. The order of love and hate also irregular. 

Poet contrasts herself a lot

Alice in Wonderland theme- and allusion- its a mad film- maybe she thinks love drives you mad. 

compare with valentine or i wanna be yours 

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Vernon Scannell fought in ww2 and so his poems have war references. 

structure: The poem consists of a single stanza and has alternately rhyming lines. The poem is a narrative account, focused on the father's perspective of an accident involving his son.

The nettles are personified as an opposing force. They are a "regiment of spite", and are described using the metaphor"spears". Within the first three lines the nettles are presented as a violent and aggressive group of soldiers to reflect the speaker's need to protect his child.

The child is presented using emotive language, reflective of the compassion and sympathy the speaker feels for his injured son: "White blisters beaded on his tender skin". The alliteration using the 'b' sounds suggests the swelling, painful injuries, and the child's skin is "tender", a strong contrast to the language used to describe the nettles.

Also see the childs vunerability by the first line revealing he's aged three. 

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Nettles continued

This poem explores the impulse for a parent to protect a child, using whatever means necessary. The emotive language used to present the child and the violence of the father's response suggests a powerful instinct has been provoked.

The poem is also about the inevitability of "wounds" being felt through life, whatever a parent may do to prevent it. The nettles grow back quickly and the speaker realises his son will feel pain again. The poem is about a parent realising that life will present children with hurtful situations, ones which cannot be avoided or prevented.

compare with- The Manhunt as war references as well

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The Manhunt

The Manhunt is written from the perspective of the wife of a soldier who has sustained serious injuries at war in Bosnia and has returned home. The poem explores the physical and mental effects of living with injuries sustained when on active service in the armed forces.

structure: The poem is made up of a series of couplets, mostly unrhymed. This creates a sense of fragmentation, which matches the feelings of the soldier's wife as she seeks to understand the man her husband has become.

The title which would usually imply hunting down a criminal is unusual as the wife is trying to find the husband- whom she knew so well beforehand. 

Many of the first lines of the couplets have prominent verbs, reflecting the activities of the wife as she conducts her "search". Words and phrases like "explore""handle and hold""mind and attend" are all references to careful treatment of her husband's injured body, as well as suggesting her patient care for his mental state.

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The Manhunt continued

The speaker refers to parts of the husband's body metaphorically, comparing them to inanimate objects rather than to living things. His jaw is a "blown hinge"

There are lots of sensual, loving verbs in the poem, reflecting the intimacy of husband and wife, and keen devotion from the wife hoping to heal her husband. 

The poem also explores the cost of war on those serving in the armed forces. The man has a "grazed heart", perhaps literally from an injury caused by "the metal beneath his chest", but also metaphorically.

Last line- narrator has come to realisation that theres mental issues as well as physical issues. 

compare with nettles- war 

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My Father Would Not Show Us

from a son/daughters pov about father who has died, who wasnt a great father and would hide away, however the son/daughter still feels remorsceful 

7 stanza's- first 3 are tercets- when describing her dead fathers current situation, however next 4 are irregular lenths but longer than 3, when describing their childhood- perhaps conveys that the childhood was more important

starts off with a quote- which reveals that the poem is about confusion and death

when describing the coffin- its boring and basic so perhaps she doesnt care for him enough to buy him something better.

when remembering her childhood ceasura used throughout the stanza, giving a broken up sort of feel that mirrors how broken her childhood is. 

The poet is south african so a few mentions to south african culture eg tin roof suggests its autobiographical. 

the last line is the answer to the first quote- suspension was built throughout the whole poem

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My Father Would Not Show Us

first line of last stanza is the title however with could instead of would- perhaps narrator has come to realisations that the father couldn't show them, however audience still confused as to why. 

tone of confusion, anger and disappointment

compare with a child to his sick grandfather- loss of paternal figure 

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very useful




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