Power and Conflict Poetry - Context


Poet: Percy Bysshe Shelley

Power of Humans Power of Nature Pride

- Pharaohs believed themselves to be Gods in mortal form and that their legacy would last forever (Power of humans, Pride)

- Expelled for Oxford after supporting atheism, an outrageous idea in the religious 1800s, shows he had a dislike for power. (Power of Humans)

- Ramesses changed the inscriptions on previous Pharaohs' statures to glorify himself. (Pride)

- As a younger generation romantic, he needed to make himself different to the previous generation (Wordsworth), therefore he set the poem in a foreign environment. (Power of Nature)

- May have been inspired by the rule of King George III. Shelley hated the oppressive government and thought a revolution was needed. Ramesses and George both engaged in many conflicts and are very similar. (Power of Humans, Pride)

- Vegetarian, shows his respect for nature, doesn't believe humans superior. (Power of Nature)

1 of 15


Poet: William Blake

Power of Humans Loss and Absence Anger

- Strongly against the Industrial Revolution, machines replaced humans and conditions in London were cramped, dirty and full of crime and poverty. (ALL)

- Inspired by the French Revolution, shared their views of social equality,freedom and rebellion against power. (Power of Humans, Anger, Loss and Absence)

- Repected the Bible, but disliked organised religion like the Church of England. (Power of Humans, Anger)

2 of 15

Extract from the Prelude

Poet: William Wordsworth

Power of Nature Individual Experiences  Pride Fear

- Both parents died and he was split up form his siblings and made to live with the uncle he hated. (Fear, Individual Experiences, Pride)

- Born in the Lake District, went outside to escape horrible relatives. (Power of Nature)

- Poem set in Ullswater, near his uncle's home. (Fear, Individual Experiences)

- Believed nature could teach humans about life and philosophy. (Power of Nature)

- First generation romantic. (Power of Nature).

- Comes in the first of fourteen books, explores his spiritual growth as a child.

3 of 15

My Last Duchess

Poet: Robert Browning

Power of Humans Pride Memory Identity

- During Victorian England, married women were the legal property of their husband. Poem could be critisizing these attitudes. (Pride, Power of Humans, Identity)

- Could have been inspired by the suspicious death of the Duke of Ferrara's wife.

- Victorian men saw their control on their wives as a reflection of themelves. (Pride, Power of Humans, Identity)

4 of 15

The Charge of the Light Brigade

Poet: Alfred Tennyson

Effects of Conflict Reality of Conflict Identity

- Appointed poet Laureate in 1850, therfore had to write poems on national significance. (ALL)

- Victorian public sceptical about why they had joined the Crimean War, and were angry at the mistakes made by those in command.

- Public annoyed at how young men's lives were sacrificed, because the government was worried Russia would take hold of India, under the British Empire.

- Tennyson experienced poverty as a young man, so had a dislike for the upper classes.

- The 'Light Brigade' was led by three Lords who had bought themselves into power, the Lords made a communication mistake costing many lives.

- At the time, reporters were starting to write exactly what was happening in war, this outraged the public and inspired poets like Tennyson and people like Florence Nightingale.

5 of 15


Poet: Wilfred Owen

Power of Nature Effects of Conflict Reality of Conflict Loss and Abence

- Originally wanted a career in the Church, but then felt it failed to care for people. (Loss and Absence)

- Fan of the poet John Keats.

- Thought war was pointless. (Effects of Conflict, Reality of Conflict, Loss and Abence)

- Wrote to his mother in novermber 1917 about the severe coldness. (Power of Nature Reality of Conflict)

- Wrote about nature being the enemy in other poems. (Power of Nature Reality of Conflict)

- Wanted to 'Expose' the reality of war to the public, who believed the myth that war was about honour, glory and patriotism. (ALL)

6 of 15

Storm on The Island

Poet: Seamus Heaney

Power of Humans Power of Nature Fear

- Aran islands, seen to be a link to Ireland's history, as they contain lots of archeological remains. Other writers in the past have written about them. (Power of Nature, Fear)

- Heany was born in 1939, after Northern and Southern Island split in 1922. (Power of Humans, Fear)

- Catholics, like himself, often faced persecution from police and government in Northern Ireland. The IRA formed in response to this, but also had intentions about driving British out by terrorising. (Power of Humans, Fear)

- 'Storm on t', Northern Irish parliament buildings. (Power of Humans Fear)

- Heany wanted to fuse traditional English poetry with his own Irish ancestry. (ALL)

7 of 15

Bayonet Charge

Poet: Ted Hughes

Effects of Conflict Reality of Conflict Fear Individual Experiences

- Father served in WW1, one of only 17 in the Lancashire Fusiliers to survive gallipoli. As a result he spent his life emotionally traumatised. (ALL)

-Interested in animals and nature.

-Grew up during WW2, born in 1930. (ALL)

-Grew up in Yorkshire, which suffered heavily losses of men during WW1. (ALL)

- Believed war to be so terrible, you cannot acurately describe it. (ALL)

-Inspied by Wilfred Owen, and the poem bares similarities to Spring Offence: repeated words in first stanza are an allusion; words to do with temperature; words 'plunged past' and 'crawled'. (ALL)

8 of 15


Poet: Simon Armitage

Effects of Conflict Reality of Conflict Memory Guilt Individual Experiences

- Part of a collection of poems about ex-soldiers called 'The Not Dead'. (ALL)

- Based on the true story of the machine gunner Guardsman Tromans, 2003. (ALL)

- Known for writing humourous poems, but this one is dark and disturbing, as it focuses on PTSD and mental illness. (ALL)

- Likely set in the Gulf War. (ALL)

9 of 15


Poet: Jane Weir

Effects of Conflict Loss and Absence Memory Fear Identitiy Individual Experiences

- Lived in Northern Ireland during the 1980s. (ALL)

- Owns a textile business. (Loss and Absence Memory Identity)

- Comes from a collection called 'Exit Wounds' put together by Carol Ann-Duffy, helping people understand the suffering caused by loss. (ALL)

-Mother of two teenaged boys. (ALL)

- Heavily based on the idea of poppies as symbols of memory, and how today they remember victims of all wars. (Loss and Absence Memory Identity)

10 of 15

War Photographer

Poet: Carol Ann-Duffy

Effects of Conflict Reality of Conflict Memory Anger Guilt Individual Experiences

- Friends with two photographers, famous for their war photography, called Don McCullin and Philip Jones Griffiths.

- Line 12 refers to a photo, taken by Nick Ut, of a Vietnamese girl running in pain after her village has been burnt down.

- The job of a War Photographer is often dangerous, many were killed of injured on the job.

- When the poem was published in 1985, photos had to be developed in a darkroom, a sinister atmosphere.

11 of 15


Poet: Imtiaz Dharker

Power of Humans Power of Nature Identity

- First poem of the collection called 'Terrorist at my Table', poems about the effect on the world of fundamentalism. (Power of Humans, Identity)

- Descibes herself as a Muslim Calvinist (combination of religions). (Power of Humans, Identity)

- Born in Pakistan in 1954, raised in Glasgow and now lives in Britain and India. (Power of Humans, Identity)

12 of 15

The Emigrée

Poet: Carol Rumens

Loss and Absence Memory Identity Individual Experiences

- Born in London in 1944.

- Often writes about foreign cultures, customs and languages. (ALL)

- Has lived in Belfast and Wales.

- Travelled widely in Russia and Eastern Europe. (ALL)

- Comes from her 1993 collection called 'Thinking of Skins': Poems about political consciousness. (ALL)

13 of 15


Poet: Beatrice Garland

Power of Nature Effects of Conflict Loss and Absence Memory Identity Individual Experiences

- Comes from her 2013 collection 'The Invention of Fireworks', about life and death in the natural world. (ALL)

- Interested in what makes people give their lives for their country.

- Kamikaze pilots were Japanease pilots in WW2 who had to crash their planes into enemy war ships. Their job was seen as a sacrifice of great honour. (ALL)

- Japanease flag (rising sun) used by the military frequently. (Identity Individual Experiences)

- Young Japanease men exposed to Kamikaze propaganda, to encourage them to give their lives for their country. (ALL)

14 of 15

Checking Out Me History

Poet: John Agard

Power of Humans Anger Identity

- Born in Guyana, South America in 1949, but moved to Britain in 1977. (ALL)

- Guyana was a British colony when he was at school. (ALL)

- Interested in how education is heavily focused on Europeans. (ALL)

- African slaves were brought to Guyana to work in sugar plantations by the British empire. (ALL)

- From a 2007 collection of poems entitled 'Half- Caste', about racial and cultural identity. (Anger Identity)

- Had been living in the UK for 30 years, so the poem releates to many aspects of identity being opressed, not just in education. (ALL)

15 of 15


No comments have yet been made

Similar English Literature resources:

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