Section 2 - English Literature Poetry (Key Poems)

Poems that I have studied from Section 2, a mix of Carol Ann Duffy, Simon Armitage and Pre-1914 poems. "Homecoming" is missing - it's worth looking at closely as it's hard to understand.

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Havisham

Key Themes

  • Love
  • Death
  • Revenge
  • Loss
  • Change

Key Lines

  • |1 - Oxymoron - the affectionate noun is mixed with the offensive noun. Could symbolise instability - was he doing something wrong or was it her?
  • |14 - The wedding cake is an image of memories, love and hope. The metaphor of the stabbing is self-destruction (of her or of the cake?)

She is a bitter woman who has been left at the altar. The regular stanzas could show she has thought this out for a while methodically, though the enjambement could show emotions heightening through the poem. The final 'b-b-b' potentially shows broken communication and/or mental state.

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Anne Hathway

Key Themes

  • Love
  • Loss
  • Death
  • Relationships

Key Lines

  • |13 - She holds him in the casket. He is important. Only she has access at any time she wishes. 
  • |8-9 - Reference to her trade, appropriate for their relationship.
  • |3 - Metaphor/euphemism changes the meaning of the poem, their love becomes more intimate.

The poem is written to mimic a WS sonnet - it is 14 lines and ends in a rhyming couplet. Is more a tribute to him. There is a heavy use of metaphors, suggesting their relationship was more complex and imaginative. Liquid aliteration offers a softer sound and the triplet (living, laughing...) offers a range of senses.

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Before You Were Mine

Themes

  • Parent-child
  • Love
  • Change/Time
  • Growing up

Key Lines

  • |12 - Metaphorically walking through her Mum's childhood in her Mum's shoes (relics could mean they are ancient/cherished).
  • |14 - Makes use of senses - they are very personal and no one else will know.

The poem is very chronological and there is a clear division between the time the child is alive. Enjambement is used to show a flowing emotional state, as the poet builds an image of her mother before she was born. There are many semantic fields throughout the poem - love and possession being two significant ones. The language throughout is somewhat possessive and reflects the childish notion parents are there just for you.

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Stealing

Themes

  • Revenge
  • Loss
  • Pain
  • Change

Key Lines

  • |3 - The reference to the snowman as a mate suggests the persona has no-one - if they consider a snowman to be a suitable friend. May partially explain their behaviour.
  • |25 - Seems like a final message of loneliness. Read literally, the poet feels they are misunderstood. Perhaps they feel their actions are reasonable.

The poem is written as a one-sided conversation. The poet is relaxed about their 'hobby'. The enjambement means the poem spills out as a rant, but the ceasura puts the emphasis on specific points (e.g. |3 "I wanted him.") 

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Mother..

Themes

  • Love
  • Parent-child
  • Change/Time
  • Growing Up

Key Lines

  • |7-8 - Epitomises the extended metaphor of the poem, the tape measure becomes the anchor and kite.
  • |13-15 - Shows the final relationship, holding on to the last aspect of childhood: the persona may fly or fall back down towards parents.
  • |1-2- Always dependent upon parents.

The stanza's are linked by the measuring metaphor. The chronological order may represent the child's journey towards independence. The enjambement shows it is a continuous journey & the relationship cannot be broken.

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Kid

Themes

  • Revenge
  • Change
  • Growing Up
  • Parent-child (similarities)

Key Lines

  • |6-7 - Certain level of sarcasm. Persona distances himself from 'Batman', suggesting not how he felt or what the case actually was.
  • |24-25 - Violent gesture, aliteration hardens the'p' sound. The punching could be in frustration, boredom or reminiscing.

This poem is a sarcastic dig at Batman from 'Robin'. The rhyme shows sarcasm and the 'er' sound repeats constantly in an almost drone like manner. The enjambement in this poem is unusual as it shows a build up in feelings, though could simply be a rant at Batman.

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Hitcher

Themes

  • Jealousy
  • Emotions
  • Revenge
  • Pain

Key Lines

  • |11 - Cold, stark change in emotions. There's no gloss, it is plain, simple and brutal.
  • |14 - Carries on like nothing has happened - moves on quickly. Simplicity adds to the brutality. 
  • |3 - Ceasura. Fricative aliteration goes with the screaming of the 'ansaphone'.

The poem is written in 5 stanza which build up the story, the climax is in the 3rd stanza - this structure is straight forward (as is the language). The most important part is always on the third line, suggesting there is more thought to this than meet the eye. The 1st person perspective allows us to see into the emotions of the persona.

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On my first Sonne

Themes

  • Death
  • Life
  • Parent-child

Key Lines

  • |9 - 'Soft peace' has faith - goes with the religious theme but suggests the child is better off now.
  • |10 - His son is his most important creation, no poetry can equal him.
  • |1 - 'Right hand', religious connotations. Could also simply mean he is precious/

This is an elegy to his son. It makes use of imagery and figurative language to show how important his son was to him. Links to poems Mother, MLD and TL (love after death).

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Sonnet 130

Themes

  • Love
  • 1st Person

Key Lines

  • |2 - defies convention and is a natural connection. Lips are contextually important yet it is a non-similie.
  • |6 - Links to Havisham and MLD (spot of joy). There's no hyperbole, very down to Earth.
  • |4 - Striking imagery for the modern audience. It's not a soft comparison and creates a strong image in the reader's head.

Uses extensive imagery to comply with the usual sonnet form, yet all the similes are non-similes. Standard sonnet form to show it is still a love poem - even if through most of the poem it seems it isn't.

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My Last Duchess

Themes

  • Love
  • Death
  • Revenge
  • Loss
  • Pain

Key Lines

  • |22-24 - Persona tries to ignore the truth, attempt to control the truth getting out. Spot of joy and jealousy.
  • |45 - What were the commands, was he jealous? Did he kill her?

The punctuation adds to the personality throughout the poem - his pauses tell us a lot about the persona. Begins controlled but eventually it seems he lets himself go. Uses rhetorical questions to support his 'commands'. The imagery of the gifts helps us to understand the point of view of the persona.

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The Laboratory

Themes

  • Love
  • Death
  • Revenge
  • Loss
  • Pain

Key Lines

  • |8 - Repetition of 'at me' makes it personal. She feels victimised and humiliated.
  • |40 - Sums up her malice of her revenge. She wants him to suffer.

The poem reads as a methodical plan, it is clearly set out and the stanzas are relatively regular. This has been contemplated for a while and is about to happen. She wants to restore her pride. The rhyme makes is somewhat eerie, more an 'evil plan'.


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