Power and Conflict Poetry



power of nature

powerful people

abuse of power


pride and glory




effect of conflict on children

effect of conflict of places

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Themes connected to poems

power of nature = Ozymandias + War Photographer + Storm on the Island + Kamikaze

powerful people = Ozymandias + Charge of the light Brigade + Kamikaze

abuse of power = Ozymandias + Charge of the light Brigade + Kamikaze

war War Photographer + Charge of the light Brigade 

pride and gloryCharge of the light Brigade Kamikaze

heroism Charge of the light Brigade + Kamikaze

memories War Photographer + Kamikaze

identity = War Photographer + Kamikaze

effect of conflict on children = War Photographer + Kamikaze

effect of conflict on places War Photographer + Storm on the Island 

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Ozymandias by Percy Shelley


The remains of a statue of an Egyptian Pharaoh symbolizing how even the most powerful people and the greatest Empires cannot last forever.


Shelley was a revolutionary and anti-monarchy, therefore he is one of the Romantic poets. The poem is reflecting his criticism of people and the systems that have become so powerful in people lives that people lose their identity and become invisible.

Ozymandias is the Greek name for the Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II. He is regarded as the greatest most celebrated and most powerful pharaoh.

The themes related to this poem is:

  • Power of nature
  • Power of people
  • Abuse of power
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Power of Nature

Power of nature = This is shown in Ozymandias because the statue has been eroded so much so that it is now unrecognisable. Ozymandias is arrogant and believes that he will hold power for ever. However nature has destroyed his power and it is all been lost leaving a broken statue that holds no dominance. 

Key Quotess:

"two vast and trunkless legs of stone" - broken and destroyed. Eaten away by the harsh elements of the desert. Futile struggle to survive where nobody cares to look after it. 

"colossal wreck" - hyperbole - it has been broken down and decayed by nature. Ozymandias is nearly forgotten. CONTEXT: ultimately all great things will decay ie. the monarchy.

"lone and level sands stretch far away" - the desert outlasts the statue, juxtaposes to the power and ego of the statue. Nature more powerful. 

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Power of people

Power of people = this is shown as the king believes his power will remain for decades. Important people are often celebrated through statues just like Ozymandias.However, this is ironic because his statue has crumbled and collapsed. Therfore, this is empahasising the duality (transcient over time) of power. 

This links to the context as Shelley is alluding to the fall of great Empires. 

Key Quotes:

"Cold Command" - metaphor - this presents Ozymandias as a harsh and powerful leader. People used to fear him and the alliteration of the c creates a harsh sound. However, the face of the statue is broken and it empahasises how his power is lost. 

"survive" and "lifeless" - contrasting words - duality of power and loss of power. Ozymandias greatness only exists as history. No longer has power over people.

"boundless and bare"  - alliterative pair of adjectivesEmphasizes the idea that nothing now remains of the Pharaohs Empire. He has no power over people anymore. He couldn't stop death and he too would end up as dust. 

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Abuse of Power

Abuse of power = As Ozymandias was a powerful and feared ruler he beliveved that he could exploit people to gain greater power and wealth. Therefore ozymandias abused his power as he didn't help anyone.

This links to shelley believing that establishment like the church abused their power. 

Key Quotes:

"the heart that fed" - imagery - Ozymandias used his power as advantage to him. He exploited his people to gain greater power and wealth. He had no care for his people. 

"King of kings" - repition - Ozymandias is arrogance in the way that he considers himself above all other rulers. Therefore, he believes that he is the most powerful and can do what he wants. 

" Look on my works ye mighty and despair" - the Verb "despair" suggests everyone will feel humbled knowing that it can never outperform the the Great ozymandias. The capitalisation of "Mighty" suggest that ozymandias saw himself as more powerful than God. This all emphasizes that ozymandias was so self- confident and therfore had the belief he could get away with anything.

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Poem is a sonnet. This traditional form of poetry is showing respect to ozymandias. Sonnets where used in love poetry so this could be suggesting people's love for ozymandias. 

The iambic pentameter creates a constant steady rhythm which links to unstoppable time and how ozymandias couldn't stop death and he to would end up as dust. Therefore he had limited power.

There is a lot of enjambment in the poem and he has created caesuras by punctuating in the middle of lines. This is contrasting the strong structure of sonnet vs the flowing enjambments. This is saying that ozymandias is power is limited. 

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Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred Tennyson


It is an attack by British light cavalry led by Lord cardigan against the Russian army in 1854 during the Crimean War. The cavalry were sent to fight against the force that was a lot bigger than them and they had to retreat with very few survivors all due to a lack of communication. 


The poem is a true story written 6 weeks after the actual battle. Tennyson was the Poet Laureate and he was expected to write a formal patriotic poem for the nation. However, the poem instead showed the mistake of the commanders and how they caused many deaths. It also showed how the cavalry showed tremendous bravery.


  • Powerful people
  • Abuse of power
  • War
  • Pride and glory
  • Heroism
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Power of People

Power of people = the men are completely obedient to the commander even when they know that they are likely to die because they are completely outnumbered they still follow the order. 

Key Quotes:

"theirs not to make reply/ theirs not to reason why/ theirs but to do and die" - juxtaposition - the commanders orders and the men knowing there has been a mistake

"forward" and "charge" - shows the commander encouraging and rallying his Men. The Soldiers don't question his authority.


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Abuse of power

Abuse of power = the commanders realise that the men are out numbered but still send the men in knowing that the survival rate will be low. Tennyson brings up a deeper meaning of should we listen to people in power as they are not always right. 

Key Quotes:

"there's not to make reply/ theirs not to reason why/ theirs but to do and die" - the "but" emphasizes that the lives of the men are not valued by the commanders they just wanted to win. 

" blundered" - verb - shows that a mistake has been made by the commande rs and the men are going to be sent into a battle that they cannot win. Tennyson is suggesting that should we listen to those in power as they arent always right. 

"forward" and "charge" - shows the commander encouraging and rallying his Men. The Soldiers don't question his authority even though thye are outbumbered + probably know they are going to die. 

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War The whole poem is about the crimean war. The battle was a huge catastrophe and many men died. Lord Tennyson was asked to write a poem about the glorious sacrifice for Britain. The poems main theme is war and the loss of men.

Key Quotes:

 "volleyed" "stormed" "thundered " - semantc field of fighting -  convey the power of oppositions artillery. This creates a frightening atmosphere of the men being continuously attacked. 

"jaws of death" "mouth of Hell"Personificationconvey the horror of the violent War.

"Shattered and sundered" - imagery - underline that the war is full of violence and shows how the cavalry is been broken up. The sibilance could also suggest the sharp intakes of breath from the men.

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Heroism + Pride and Glory

Heriosm + Pride and Glory = Tennyson has shown the men as being brave throughout the poem and that they deserve all the glory. He is constantly reminding the reader that the cavalry are at a disadvantage. Even though the men lost he's saying that they should be glorified because they were so brave.

Key Quotes:

Tennyson has varied the punctuation from each line in the last Stanza. 

ie.from rhetorical questions -  implying their "glory" will last forever.

To exclamative "O the wild charge they made!" - Implying the bravery. 

 "shattered and sundered"  - imagery - he's saying that the men were outnumbered but they were still able to damge the Russian army and leave and impression. The sibilance underlines the men's sharp intake of breath but also their continous bravery. 

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It is a narrative poem telling me true story. The Six standards links to the 600 men that fought, each stanza honours 100 men. The lines are quite short and they are usually six beats which portrays the cavalry charging. 

Tennyson has used a dactylic dimeter this means that the stress as on the first beat and then weakens along the line. The stressed beat represents the cavalry's determination, the unstressed beats underline the gradual tragic Fall of the men. 

The poem has a quite traditional formal structure. Uniform metre and clear rhyming structure. This reflects the regiment of the army and how the men should be respected

However it is also not fully uniform as the lines and the stanzas vary in length. This underlines the gradual breakdown of the cavalry's organisation and the strength. 

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Storm of the Island by Seamus Heaney


The power of nature depicted through the experiences of a small island community 


Seamus Heaney poetry is often rooted in a sense of place and explores our relationship with the Landscape around us.

It could be an extended metaphor for the political storm in Ireland for example the IRA who committed several terrorist attacks against the Irish protestants. 

The Poem was published in 1966 in his first book The Death of A Naturalist.

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Power of Nature

Power of Nature: the storm on the small irish island is described at first as being regualar occurence for the community. They are used to the storms and it is inescapeable if you live on that island. However, later on it changes with the storm sounding more dangerous and the community are more scared now by the force of nature.

Key Quotes:

"Exploding comfortably" - oxymoron - this is stating that the waves are nothing compared to the storm. 

"salvo" ( CONSTANT FIRING OF ARTILLERY) "bombarded"  - warfare metaphor - the wind is a salvo and the community feel bombarded. Storm is dangerous and violent.

"Strange, it is a huge nothing that we fear" - final line - "huge nothing" - oxymoron - conveying how the forces of nature are unfathomable and awesome.

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Effect of conflict on places

Effect of conflict on places = This is shown through the island being continuously battered by storms. They are a regular occurrence. Therefore the storm underlines the ongoing conflict between humans and nature. However, conflict on places could also linked to beheading meaning of the poem. That is the conflict in Northern Ireland: the IRA and terrorist attacks.

Key Quotes:

"salvo" ( CONSTANT FIRING OF ARTILLERY) "bombarded"  - warfare metaphor - the wind is a salvo and the community feel continously attacked. However, also could underline the terrorist attacks in northern ireland that they always have to face.

"wizened earth" - imagery - the earth is called (too poor to produce anything) due to the harsh weather that the island has to deal with constantly,

"pummels" - aggressive verb - power of the storm. The personification suggests that it is a physical entity that attacks the island leaving it destroyed. This could also suggest how the IRA are destroying Ireland. 

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It is a dramatic monologue. Written in blank verse it doesn't rhyme but the lines are in iambic pentameter. Irregular rhythm reflects the constant attack of the storm. The lack of rhythm represent the chaos and discord caused by the weather.

Also features a lot of enjambments and caesuras so the poem doesn't flow continuously. Thereby mirroring the uncontrolled and unpredictable gust of wind described in the poem. Also, the enjambment represents the constant attack of the storm or the constant IRA attacks in Northern Ireland.

There is a half rhyme at the beginning and the end of the poem. This emphasizes that the storm refuses to be controlled. The storm is inescapable. 

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War Photographer by Carol Ann Duffy


It is about war photographer who has returned home and is developing his photos.She explores the practice it's ethics and it's impact. But it concludes with war photographers don't care about what sites they see they just want a good photo. 


Old style film is very sensitive to light so must be done in a darkroom lit with a red light. It is developed using chemicals which slowly bring out the photo, it is then how to dry. All of this can create a sinister atmosphere. 

The poem is looking at the contrast between the war zones and safety of being back home. 

War photographers have a very dangerous job as they must get in harms way to get a photo.

Carol Ann Duffy is a National figurehead. Her poems give voice to people you don't get attention. Therefore the poem is trying to make a statement. 

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War the imagery conveys the horrible images that the war photographer had to witness. At the time he was able to work through it, however now hes home in a safe environment the terrible images of what hes seen are now haunting him. 

Key Quotes:

"the only light is red" - connotations - with blood and violnce. There is blood everywhere. 

"half-formed ghost" - metaphor - photo not fully developed yet. It implies the person he was taking  a picture of is now probably dead. War is full of death.

".Rural England." - caesura - breaks the rhythm of the poem. This underlines the difference between safe england and the dangers of a warzone. Also, how suddenly life can end in a warzone. 

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Memories = the memories of war haunts the photographer as the realisation of the horrors hes seens sinks in. 

Key Quotes:

"which did not tremble" - irony - he had a steady hand when taking the photos in war, but now at home which is safe he trembles. His memories haunt him as he remembers the atrocities.Hint he is suffering from PTSD.

"Something is happening" - describes the photos being developed and how the photographer is affected by his memories.

"remembers the cries" - the warzones that he has witnessed he will never forget as the cries of people will haunt him. 


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Identity = this is a hidden theme in the poem. It is shown through some of the horrific scenes Carol Ann Duffy is trying to show the importance of these people in warzones by describing what they have to deal with. 

Key Quotes:

"a hundred agonies in black and white" - it describe the atrocities the photographer has documented.It implies the photographs have no individual importance, no one is caring for the identites that are in the photo. They will only affect the readers momentarily and then they will move on. 

"he sought approval without words" - personal pronoun of "he" - empahasises how this person has no identity. the nameless person is one of many.

"editor will pick out five or six" -the carelessness of this underlines how they have no care for the identity of these soldiers. They just want the biggest impact. Only a few soldiers are honoured. 

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Effect of Conflict on Children

Effect of conflict on children = how the warzone effects the childrens lives. They are constantly in danger and the photographer belives it so unfair as our lives are so easy. 

Key Quotes:

"Rural England" and "ordinary pain" - juxtapose -to the warzones that these children have to live in. Our problems can be easily fixed by the weather improving.

"to fields which dont explode beneath the feet" - imagery -  the photographer believes the situation so unfair as these children cant even play like normal children becasue there lives are in danger. This conflict affects all.

" running children in a nightmare heat" - imagery- this is a link to a famous photo of children running from napalm in the Vietnam war, thta ended the war. But now we arent phased by seeing similar photos. 

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Effect of conflict on Places

Effect of conflict on Places = the poem hints that conflicts leave a lasting impression on the country and the people. The photographer has to find a quiet place so he can comprehend the sights that he has witnessed. However, it also underlines that there are conflicts all around the world, they all deserve respect and to be resolved. 

Key Quotes:

"though this were a church" - metaphor - it hints that the darkroom is a sanctuary for the photographer, just as a religious person would go to church he finds comfort in his room, where its silent. The horrors have terrorised him but he seems to find peace there. IN A WAY THE DARKROOM HAS CHANGED DUE TO A CONFLICT.

"Belfast.Beirut.Pnom Penh." - triadic structure - these countries have all suffered from a a civil war with many deaths. The noun in a single sentence forces you to pause which underlines that each country is important and deserves respect for what it has been through. It hints that conflict is everywhere. 

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The poem is arranged in four sestets. 

Many of the lines are Iambic pentameter 

There is repeated ABBCDD rhyme scheme. 

This reflects the methodical approach the photographer takes his work. This suggests he detaches himself from the horrific pictures. 

However, later on in the poem it is disrupted by enjambments and caesuras. This could mirror how his life at home is ordered, but in war zones his life becomes chaotic. 

Also, suggests how when at home his true feelings about what he has witnessed comes to the fore and when he's in war zones he's having to hide his true feelings and stay professional. 

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Kamikaze by Beatrice Garland


The poem is about the events of a kamikaze pilot flying to war and then turning around. Because the pilot Returns home he's rejected by his family Forever After. His own wife refuses to speak to him. Because of this the poet questions at the end would death of been better for him. 


Kamikaze pilots were meant to use up all there weapons and then commit suicide by fly into the target to completely destroy them. It was considered a great honour in Japan to die for your country. The planes were called "cherry blossom" which the Japanese believed were the most beasutiful thing. Therefore, they believed death was beautiful.

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Power of Nature

Power of Nature = nature is shown as being an important reason for why the pilot to turned around. He witnesses there beauty and rethinks whether he should end his life.

Key Quotes:

"green-blue translucent sea" - colour imagery - the adjective "translucent" implies a moment of clarity (remembers the truth) making the pilot turn around. Nature did that.

"like a huge flag" - similie - the fish are like huge waves. Celebration of his peaceful life that he doesnt want to end. 

"loose silver of whitebait" - metaphor - sudden realisation thta he values his life and nature made him realise that.

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Powerful People + Abuse of Power

Abuse of Power and Powerful People = link in this poem as the pilot believes that his Leaders hold more power than him and are always right. They should never be challenged. This links to the Leaders abusing there power to make the Soldiers believe that commiting suicide is an honourble thing to do. 

Key Quotes: 

"Samurai Sword" - references to Japanese culture - presents the man as an honourble man as he loves is country and is willing to do anything for them. Samurais also believed highly in loyalty to there country and honour through dying. However, this also reveals that these pilots are manipulated by there leaders to think this. CONTEXT: The Japanese have very strict regimes where the commanders are always right. 

"no longer the father we loved" - the verb "loved" - its in the past tense suggest that the children were really torn as the manipulation was so powerful. They had no choice but to believe that the state is above family and emotions.

"strung out like bunting" - similie - the pilot sees the beauty of his life which makes him think if he really wants to end his peaceful life. However, the flags and bunting also represent nationalism and patriotism a belief all pilots were forced to believe. This suggests a conflict betweeen his life and his duty. 

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Pride and Glory + Heroism

Pride and Glory + Heroism = this is shown at the beggining of the poem. When the pilot is getting ready to complete his mission. However, it also shown in contrast. The pilot is a coward and he receives no glory or pride from nation or family. 

Key Quotes:

"journey into history"  - metaphor  - the pilot willl receive great honor for dying. They are taught that they are reawarded for their heroic and commendable service and courage during the war. Hes presentedas brave here.

"we too learned/ to be silent"enjambement- underlines the change in behaviour revealing that they also grew to ignore him. He is known as a coward and recieves no glory. The complete opposite. The verb "learned" underlines how the power of social pressure - to believe that Japanese culture is right - they now believed he was dishonourable.

"better way to die" - the pilot has been completely shamed by his family. He has received no glory from his nation or family. He is known as a coward. He is dishonoured. LINKS TO soceity being manipulated. However, it could also suggest that the daughter regrets her decision so maybe the pilot recieves some glory from her daughter years later.

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Memories = on the journey he remembers these vivid memories and depict a powerful sense of home-sickness. These memories are one of the reasons he turns around as he remembers his family and everything he loves.

Key Quotes:

"green-blue translucent sea" - colour imagery - the adjective "translucent" implies a moment of clarity (remembers the truth) making the pilot turn around. He doesnt want the experience to end.

"turbulent inrush" - sound "cloud-marked" - sight - list of sense - underlines his powerdul desire to stay as he loves all the things about life.

"safe to the shore, salt-sodden" - sibilance - memory of playing with his brothers and bringing the boat to shore. The sibillnace underlines the ocean waves, peaceful. Waves also return like he will return home. 

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Identity = the Kamikaze pilots are presented as not having an identity as the Japanese culture treats them as a weapon to win the war. They have no care for the life of the soldiers. However, the poem also suggests that the whole Japanese dont have an indentity or a voice because they have to follow social judgements and political propaganda in order to be accepted into soceity.

Key Quotes:

"better way to die" - noun phrase - empahasises that the man was trapped or doomed by his countrys sense of duty. ie. to die is honourable. Its as if the pilot now regrets his decision because he believes it would of been better to die than have to live with all this shame.

"Samurai Sword" - references to Japanese culture - presents the man as an honourble man as he loves is country and is willing to do anything for them. Samurais also believed highly in loyalty to there country and honour through dying. However, this also reveals that these pilots are manipulated by there leaders to think dying is honourable and thats what they have to do. If they dont they are shunned by a soceity that is too afraid to speak out. 

"no longer the father we loved" - the verb "loved" - its in the past tense suggest that the children were really torn as the manipulation was so powerful. They had no choice but to believe that the state is above family and emotions.The children therefore had no identity as they had to follow social norms and they couldnt make decisions for themselves to love there father.

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Effect of Conflict on Children

Effect of Conflict on Children = the conflict isnt between countries. The confilct is between the rules of japanese culture "honour" and the want to survive. This conflict effects his children as when he returns the children are taught to treat the father dishonourably. However, it also effects all children as at a young age the social pressure of Japanese culture forces manipulares them into seeing Kamikaze missions as honourbale.

Key Quotes:

"chattered and laughed" - verbs - show the children treat there father as before. They dont see him as dishonourble. This changes however.

"we too learned/ to be silent" - enjambement- underlines the change in behaviour revealing that they also grew to ignore him. The verb "learned" underlines how the power of social pressure - to believe that Japanese culture is right - they now believed he was dishonourable.

"he must have wondered/which had been the better way to die" - sad irony - he aborted the mission because he loves his family for them to hate him. He escaped death only to be treated as if he was dead. The daughter tells her story to her children which implies she wants her children to always to be honourable - continuation of the Japanes culture. OR it could mean shes admitting her guilt for her behaviour as the words suggest symapthy and regret. 

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It is narrative poem which tells the words of the pilots daughter as she talks to her children. 

Some of her accounts are in the first person. This underlines the personal impact of the conflict. 

Stanzas 2 and 5 show her imagining her father's reasons for not completing the mission. 

It is arranged in 7 sestets and this set pattern contrast with the use of free verse. This could reflect the conflict the pilot experiences. 

ie. Following his orders and his Duty OR following his heart and being with his family. 

There is a quite regular syllable pattern which drifts up and down in length. This reflects the rhythm of the waves or his desperate need to return home. 

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