Relationship Cluster Poems
The Manhunt (Simon Armitage)
Content: Man returns from war, scarred and rebuilds relationship.
Form: First person narrative, couplets = step‐by‐step process.
Structure: Different injury, different stanza; explores the body and then the mind.
Language: About caring, body parts, war, and fragile objects.
Themes: Pain, suffering (Nettles), Intimacy more important that passion (Sonnet 43). Relationships long‐lasting (Sonnet 116).
Hour (Carol Ann Duffy)
Content: Poet describes one hour spent with lover outdoors in the Summer, addresses intensity of love and its relationship to time.
Form: Similar to a Shakespearean sonnet (length and rhyme scheme) but broken into four stanzas. Speaks to 116.
Structure: Final couplet links back to personified image of time and love.
Language: About time, money/wealth/value.
Themes: Love against time (116, To His Coy Mistress), Ordinary better than fantasy (Born Yesterday, 116).
In Paris With You (James Fenton)
Content: Speaker upset about love goes to Paris on the rebound. Starts unhappy and finishes feeling amorous.
Form: Repeated stanza pattern except stanza three. Song like with repetition, refrain and internal rhyme.
Structure: Stanza One ‐ is about the narrator, Two – his feelings, Three – his intent, Four and Five – passion.
Language: Colloquial, often humorous, forced rhymes.
Themes: Love not perfect can be hurtful (The Farmer’s Bride), Poet trying to seduce someone (To His Coy Mistress), anger (Sister Maude).
Quick Draw (Carol Ann Duffy)
Content: Speaker compares phone calls and texts from lover to a gun fight.
Form: Free verse with enjambment, alliteration, irregular rhyme tense and unpredictable.
Structure: Each stanza = one contact with lover.
Language: Communication is modern and different. Language about Westerns is cliché and contrast.
Themes: Love can hurt (The Farmer’s Bride, In Paris With You), Communication (The Manhunt).
Ghazal (Mimi Khalvati)
Content: Speaker expresses intense feelings of love, new image in each stanza.
Form: A Ghazal – ancient middle eastern form. Not narrative.
Structure: Different idea/image in each stanza = lots of thoughts = very intense.
Language: Nature = love as timeless/eternal/natural. Language about love (sometimes aggressive).
Themes: Intense physical desire (To His Coy Mistress, In Paris With You, Hour), Natural imagery (Nettles, Hour, The Farmer’s Bride).
Brothers (Andrew Forster)
Content: Narrator recalls a memory from childhood where he abandoned younger brother and emotional result.
Form: Narrative, free verse = everyday spoken English.
Structure: Stanza One – brothers together, Stanza Two – physically apart, Stanza Three – emotionally distant.
Language: Youth, sport, Maturity.
Themes: Family relationships (Sister Maude), Childhood incidents (Nettles).
Praise Song For My Mother (Grace Nichols)
Content: Narrator remembers childhood when mother was complete world to her.
Form: Free verse but song‐like with repeated refrain.
Structure: No punctuation suggests one warm memory.
Language: About her mother, linked to language about a lover. About food.
Themes: Parental love (Harmonium, Nettles), Natural imagery (Ghazal, The Farmer’s Bride).
Harmonium (Simon Armitage)
Content: Narrator and father collect Harmonium from church thinks about time and father jokes about death.
Form: Free verse = ordinary speech = telling a story.
Structure: Stanza One – how he got the Harmonium, Stanza Two – how the Harmonium is now, Stanza Three – Harmonium’s past, Stanza Four – father and his relationship.
Language: Ordinariness, language about time, and puns.
Themes: Parental relationships (Praise Song Nettles), time passing –sad but inevitable (Brothers).
Sonnet 116 (William Shakespeare)
Content: Speaks of constancy of true love, love doesn’t change, ends with a guarantee of truth.
Form: Shakespearean Sonnet.
Structure: Quatrains discuss constancy of love in different ways; couplet is the writer’s guarantee.
Language: Travel, time, looks/ageing.
Themes: Attitudes to love (43, Hour opposite To His Coy Mistress).
Sonnet 43 (Elizabeth Barrett Browning)
Content: Love poem about intense love. Love seen as sacred counts different ways she loves him.
Form: Pertian Sonnet (8+6).
Structure: Octave = how she loves him, Sestet = time she loves him.
Language: Religious, repetition.
Themes: Love as perfect/eternal (116 contrasts To His Coy Mistress).
To His Coy Mistress (Andrew Marvell)
Content: Narrator seducing women, don’t play hard to get as there isn’t time, physical relationship whilst young.
Form: First person narrator, rhyming couplets.
Structure: Stanza One – wants to spend forever wooing her, Stanza Two – but can’t because of time, Stanza Three – so let’s do it now.
Language: Death, aggressive love, hyperbole (exaggeration).
Themes: Love and Time (116, 43, Hour), Intense Passion (In Paris With You, Ghazal, Hour).
The Farmer's Bride (Charlotte Mew)
Content: Farmer married three years, bride is scared of men, and how things went wrong, considering ****?
Form: Dramatic Monologue, rhyme scheme drives poem forward.
Structure: Stanza 1, 2 – story of the marriage, 3, 4, 5 – how his wife is now and his feelings, 6 –his desire.
Language: Nature, dialect.
Themes: Unhappy love (In Paris With You contrasts with Hour, 116, etc. where love is perfect).
Sister Maude (Christina Georgina Rossetti)
Content: Narrator describes betrayal by sister over a secret love affair.
Form: Ballad, Dramatic Monologue.
Structure: Starts ambiguous, repeated ideas, ends with wishing death on Sister Maude.
Language: Angry (sibilance), religious, also repetition of Sister Maude.
Themes: Family relationships (Brothers), Intense emotions (43, 116, To His Coy Mistress).
Nettles (Vernon Scannell)
Content: Narrator recalls time son fell into nettle bed. Compares nettles to army. Discovers powerlessness of parents.
Form: Narrative poem, tells one story.
Structure: Events in sequence, one stanza = one memory of one event.
Language: Military (extended metaphor), pain, innocence.
Themes: Caring for loved ones (Born Yesterday, The Manhunt), parental relationships (Praise Song, Harmonium).
Born Yesterday (Philip Larkin)
Content: Particular event, birth of young girl. Contrasts fairy tale idea with practical talents.
Form: Free verse, lack of rhyme = normal spoken English, emphasis on couplet at the end.
Structure: Stanza One – cynical about fantasy/hyperbole, Stanza Two – real, honesty and happiness.
Language: Cynical, ordinary.
Themes: What is important (116, Hour, The Manhunt contrasts with To His Coy Mistress, In Paris With You).