OCR poetry analysis GCSE

a quick analysis of the first world war poems allocated for OCR GCSE english literature. i have assumed that you can analyse the poem for the most part and have only offered the alternative explanations that are needed for getting the top grades. also these are my interpretations only. i apologise for any spelling grammar or punctuation mistakes this was made in a hurry. for more of a general overview of the poetry see opening lines- section h revision booklet also on this site.

  • Created by: kate
  • Created on: 22-05-10 19:16


repetition 'Lad's you're wanted', either representive of soldiers camaradie or ironic imitation of the men initiating the joining up.

phrases like 'girls with feathers, vulgar songs' could represent the fact the poet thinks the boys are heros and the girls (feathers, poss sluts?) and others 'less heroic' on the home front, or could be mocking the propaganda as girlls would give white feathers to men who would not fight and the poet thinks this is wrong. the songs could could be the songs sung about the heroicness of war and soldiers.

though the poet is mocking of the whole war he is admiring the men (and mainly boys) who went to fight you can tell this by his mockery of the men lest behind 'fat old men'. you cannot tell if this is what the poet thinks of the homefront or what propaganda says about the homefront ambivilance (a*concept).

overall cannot tell in some places if the poet is mocking the war or agreeing with the propaganda 'gallant sacrafice' many stanzas could show many dead soldiers or many soldiers joining up. enjambment in an inadvertent rush to die or on the path to death and cannot get off it. cheery isn't it.

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joining the colours

compare with recruitment same subject can't tell if for or against war.

present tense=urgency and foreboding.

'smooth-cheeked and golden', 'gay and golden boys', 'high heart, high courage' implies innocence, youth and bravery, poet admire soldiers.

'food for shells and guns'(metaphor), 'as if to thier wedding day', 'into the dark' 'into the mist' all show foreboding about death of soldiers, so poet sad about soldiers going to war.

wedding day coulkd also show lost chances experiences they will now never get and represents new life that won't happen now. also the fact they never grew up enough to marry but grew up enough to die.

emphasis on music 'pipe the way' , 'singing they pass' could represent childishness, innocence, and joy however could be forboding of the communal music of funeral and the marches traditionally played then.

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how to make a simple analysis of a poem

Subject (what poem is about, all war, but in more detail e.g. recruitment)

Purpose (what the poem wanted the reader to think)

Emotion (anger, hatred, sadness)

Craftmanship in here comes Structure (verses, rhythm etc), Words (interesting ones, connotation, denotation) Imagery (metaphors, similies, why the poet has put them there) Movement (rhythm, enjambment) Sound effects ( onomatapiea, alliteration, sibilance)


remember this by specs swims

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writing an essay

Point e.g. Makintosh uses slang and colloquial language to emphasise his opinion.

Evidence 'Lads you're wanted'

Explanation this use of 'lads' could represent the soldiers camardie and youth when they are joining up, however, it could also be an ironic imitation of the war propaganda.

Effect this means that the reader is unsure of mackintosh's opinion of war and there is ambivilance in the poem.

this should be one paragraph, try to pad out the points etc. using sophisticated language, after all it is your opinion and how to say it that matters.

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The Target

this poem is very personal and abrupt, 'I shot him' this reflects the shock the poet is feeling at killing someone, but also could be his contrasting sense of acceptance that he has done this thing.

he reference to his mother contrasting it with his victim's family 'perhaps he was the only son' calmly could represent the sureality of the situation the narrator has found himself in. this contrasts with the oxymoronic references to religion and war where the poet feels frustrated.'yet God keeps still.'

the narrators feeling of helplessness is reflected by his increasing acceptance and politeness at the war 'ask his pardon', however the poet contrats this with his strong feelings of unease and madness 'a man might rave' this could mean that it is all wrong and someone should rave about it or that it would be no use raving as it would change nothing.

i think that this poem is a journey of the poet comtemplating his guilt to becoming angry at the people who have started the war's lack of guilt.

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the send-off

the three line, two line structure, gives shaky and shudering momentum to the poem, this could represent the uncertainty and inconsistency of war but also the train taking the soldiers to war.

'grimly gay'is an alliterated oxymoron reflecting the contrasting emotions of those who know what is happening sad to see the unsuspecting soldiers go happy to their death and the innocent soldiers who happy to leave and become heros. it could also represent the tradgedy of uncertainty as if the poet does not know whether to be happy that they are heros or sad that wil almost certainly die.

the colour imagery of white in 'white with wreath and spray' reflects the innocence and youth of the soldier, whereas the wreath contrasts representing the rather black concept of death.

the mention of 'wild' and 'drums and yells' could show the wildness and uncontrollable qualities of warfare, alternativley it could represent the animalistic qualities that the war has brought out in the soldiers and how war has changed the man that survived

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more of the send-off

the alliteration in 'beating of great bells' emphasizes the meaning in the phrase, the mention of beating is like the heart of englands youth that will not beat again as war has stopped it, this is juxtaposed with 'great bells' which could be construed as a religious reference, at church, saying the joys that these soldiers will not experience, alternatively it could be forboding of the bells that would toll at a funeral.

the rhetorical question in 'in wild train-loads?' creates a sacastic feel and makes the reader involved in the poem.

although the poet very much laments the loss of the soldiers to the war, he is also scathing of the men left at home 'dull porters' , 'casual tramp' this creates the impression that the poet believes that the best people are being lost and that is the greatest shame.

the repetition and fricative sounds in 'a few, a few, too few' is reminisant of the quiet chuff of a train, secreative bringing them back.

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spring offensive

Spring Offensive” is an account of the action of going over the top twice in a day, its prologue and aftermath and the men involved in it.

The poem is composed of six stanzas; each describes a different phase of the attack – the scene, the pause before the attack, the tension, the attack, the casualties, and the survivors.

the imagery 'like an injected drug' could represent the vast healing power of summer and the sun and how it breathes new life into things however it could also be representative of how the adrenaline numbs the soldiers to death and war like a drug, making the whole experience surreal.

the title 'spring offensive' is oxymoronic and ironic as spring is generally represents the birth of new life and offensive is an attack that will kill people.

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more spring offensive

there are many religios references 'God caught them', 'hell's upsurge' and also 'little brambles....like sorrowing arms' thsi could reflect easter in spring, when christ sacrificed himself, the poet could be likening the soldiers sacifice to that however, there will be no resurrection for them. the brambles could reflect christ's crown and how it spelt death and would not let go. howver, the religious refernces to hell could merely be emphaiszing the horrible experience and the references to God, potraying the poet's opinion that the soldiers were innocent and could.

there is much water imagery in this poem 'surf of bullets', 'hell's upsurge' and 'swift to sink' this could reflective of something that overwhelms everything and is very hard to stop, water and war, however, it could also show water and war as something that quickly changes.

there is loads of imagery in this poem and it is relatively easy to analyse it but further analysis is in the revision notes 'opening lines, section H,revision notes' also on get revising.

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The Bohemians

this poem is about appearence in the army. it is mainly ambiguous until the last line. It is hard to tell whether the poet is scornful of the bohemians and their way of dressing or dislikes the fact the army promote people based on their appearence and that the war has ruined the men.

these points are emphasized by alliteration 'burnished brasses'. the fact the first fourteen lines are all one sentence and the poet sometimes uses enjambment gives the impression that the poet is ranting and has very strong emotions and opinions about this.

the last line contrasts with the rest of the poem and possibly is scornful of both the bohemians and the army, stating that neither appearence matters in the end as they died however they dressed.

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the personification in 'blind darkness' could suggest that the darkness has an intention to cover light and happiness or be representative of the leaders of the war who cover suffering with glory. hoever, it could also reflect the helplessness of the soldiers and the fact they know nothing except their orders.

the use of 'howled and beat his chest' could reflect that war and grief destroy men and turns them into animals however they could merely potray and emphaisze the strong emotions of the soldier.

the phrase 'bleeding war' powerfully personifys war using a blaspheme and a curse however, 'bleeding' it often used to mean an annoyance and does not capture the horror of the first world war, but, it would be stronger language when the poem was written than now.

the last line of the poem is heavily ironic of the propaganda and reflective of the contrast between propaganda (and men's ideas about war when they joined up) and the soldiers feelings about war after they fought and suffered.

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The Deserter

the rhythm of the poem contrasts with the content as it almost sounds like a nursey but is about war and desertion.

the implacation of the ordinary 'Just that-he turned and ran away' implies that poet condemns his punishment and thought the punishment of deserters was brutal.

comparing the character in the poem to a hare suggests that war causes soldiers to lose their humanity and so their guilt or the suggestion of animalistic qualities could suggest that the soldier was not as much as a loss.

the repetition of 'an english bullet in his heart' emphasizes the irony of the army murdering thier own soldier for the enemy. it also suggests the irony of the army taking time and resources to lessen their chance of sucess and how warped the war had become.

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The Hero

This is a heavily ironic as the character mentioned in the poem is not a hero to anyone except his mother.

the poet describes 'Jack' as 'a.......swine' this animal methaphor reflects the opinion of the poet that Jack is worthless and not human, he is not sad he is dead. this contempt shown for jack by the poet contrasts with his sympathy for the mother, 'gallant lies'.

this poet appears to present the normal confusion between admiring soldiers (and despising deserters) and hating the war itself.

the poet is Sigfreid Sasson who was notoriously anti-war but also was decorated for bravery, i think the poem is perhaps an ironic take on another officers point of veiw and not his own opinion.

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The falling leaves

this poem is an extended metaphor conveying death in wartime through nature.

the 'brown leaves' and the 'snowflakes' reflect the multitude of the soldiers falling in their masses however, the brown leaves also reflect autumn as a morbid and dying time of year and possibly the soldiers uniform. the 'snowflakes' could reflect the purity and the innocence of the soldiers and *** it was not their fault they died.

the poet says the leaves fell on a still day, which means there was no need for them to fall or the soldiers to die, it also insinuates that it is almost accidental and not notable.

the snowflakes are said to 'wipe(ing) out the noon' this reflects the fact that the soldiers will never have the noon in their lies as they die young, it could reflect that the soldiers hardly saw the sunlight and when they did would not care.

the use of 'strewed' implies the fact that the deaths are careless and worthless, it could also be ironic of the fact petals are strewn for luck but in this poem brown leaves certainly are not.

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In Flanders Fields

In this poem the dead are speaking to us(the reader) telling us what to do this emphasizes the propaganda ideas in the poem and involves the reader.

the famous use of poppies could be interpreted as many things, the red could represent the blood shed of the soldiers and the horror of war, however, poppies are very fragile and ephemeral, like the soldiers. they could also reflect the fact live goes on and things still grow when many men are dying.

the larks are also very symbolic they could reflect the soldiers souls or an angels blessing and often are used to symbolise beauty and beginning. they are also detached from warfare ignoring the things going on beneath them and also like the poppies show that nature always continues.(this contrasts with the falling leaves as nature dies in that to reflect the soldiers deaths.)

the monosyllbles in the second stanza reflect marching and are used to emphasize who the speaker is (the dead), it then lists human emotions emphasizing what has been taken away from the soldiers or perhaps what the soldiers were fighting for.

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more flanders field

in the last stanza the poem really becomes a propaganda poem as the dead order the living to keep fighting 'take up our quarrel with the foe' this contrasts with most of the poems in the anthology as they are mainly anti-war beliving it a waste of life.

the use of 'torch' could symbolise light, energy and hope but also could be the spirit of the soldiers and their bravery from the fire of the torch.

the poem becomes very pro-war when it states 'we shall not sleep' meaning the soldiers will not die peacefully unless we keep on fighting. it could also mean the soldiers must be avenged.

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The seed-merchant's son

the many descriptions of the childlike nature of the seed-merchants son emphasizes his youth and his inncocence, niavety. the poet uses hybolic language tho create a vivid image of life and youth.

the poet uses ellipses to create a wistful remenising feel and to emphasize the contrast between life and death, they could also represent the gunshots that ended the son's life.

it is ironic that it is the seed-merchant's son as the father sells things that create life and is now contemplating his sons death, also seed is the biblical word for youth.

i think the last line is ambiguous as the seed-merchant murmurs 'Thank God, thank God' this could be interpreted by some people that he is glad his son is dead but i think that is very unlikely, it could also mean when he is looking at the seeds he realises that nothing ever really dies and everthing is regrown and he finds comfort in that, or perhaps he is glad that the son by fighting has paved the way to a better future. another interpretation is that he is thanking God that he had a son at all.

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the parable of the old man and the young

this is an extended metaphor using a bible story, where God tests Abraham's faith

the biblical and archeic language of this poem emphasize the contrast between the parable and the warped story of the first world war, the poet has created an ironic field by changing Abram from the founder of the race into a war leader that kills the race.

the poet use phrases such as 'belts and straps' and 'parapets and trenches' to reflect the trench warfare in the poem, the belts and straps might reflect the uniform and how it imprisoned the soldiers into warfare when they joined.

I think the poet's message in this poem is that the only reason the young men are dying is beacause the old men are too proud to stop, it is alos ironic because the old men are causing the young men to die and never grow old.

the last line metion 'europe' which means the poet understands the loss of the enemy too even if the old men can't and the phrase 'one by one' which is not literal as many could die at once reflects how every soldier was an individual to their family.

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Spring in war-time

The title of this poem contrasts as spring is the beginning of life and war-time the end of life. the poet also uses a contrast in 'blackthorn snow' as black is used for forboding and danger, also the fruit of blackthorn sloe is bitter, and snow is white used for purity and innocence. this also contrasts the seasons as blackthorn is mainly in early summer and snow is in winter.

the alliteration in the second line slows the pace and so emphasizing the things that the poet will never do again, and creates a wistful feeling. the personification of 'violets peer' creates a playful, curious feel as if nature is carrying on and cannot understand why she is sad, however, it could reflect the fact though she was once the observer of nature grief has turned her into something nature observes.

the 'red roses blown' in the third stanza could relflect the love and passion that has been taken away from her. it also has assonance which gives a wistful feeling further demostrated by the elipsis. the mention of daisies could reflect the nature carrying on and it's beauty or could reflect death as it is often sais they are 'pushing up the daisies'

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the dash in the title gives a wistful and uncertain feel or perhaps remenissing.

there is loads of colour imagery in this poem 'white blossoms' this could reflect the innocence of their love and possibly how it was not the soldiers fault, it could reflect the inoocence robbed of them by war. 'skies are blue' this gives a serene abstract feeling and alos reflects the weather is affected by nothing going on below. 'golden meadows' could reflect the harvest the cutting of crops completely which is what happened to men in the first world war or the beauty and glory of nature that the poet cannot appreciate. 'crimson roses' is rememissant of the love and passion the poet felt but cannot feel anymore and could reflect the blood shed by the first world war.

the poet emphasizes her grief and pain by contrasting it with the beautiful surroundings around her.

the use of capitalisation of 'You' reflects the strong love and admiration that the poet felt for this soldier, as capitalisation is often used for God, it also emphasizes the directness of her speech and the act she is talking to the dead.

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reported missing

the poet is in denial in this poem and so has no closure. she believes that her soldier cannot be dead otherwise she would not be alive and the world would not continue as normal.

the structure is a sonnet which reflects the huge love shown in this poem, however a reader could say it is ironic because her soldier probably is dead.

the poet uses alliteration 'dear and deep-eyed humour' to emphasize the fact her soldier loved life so much or possibly that someone that alive so short a while ago could not possibly be dead.

though the poet thinks she is in denial perhaps she knows subconciosly that her soldier could be dead as she uses some gloomy imagery 'twilight hushfulness' which could signify the end of life but alternatively that she thinks the soldier has to be alive as everything is peaceful.

she also says life is normal is happening so he can't be dead, but her example is culling watercress which is very close to killing.

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Bill Gates


Excellent. Thank you so so so much! Just what I was looking for! Good luck on Monday, Wednesday and next Tuesday!!

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