Relationship Cluster Poetry Notes

These are the notes for the poems in the Relationship cluster for current GCSE English Literature Exam.

  • Created by: Saba
  • Created on: 21-12-11 14:23

Relationship Cluster Poems


1 of 16

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).

2 of 16

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).

3 of 16

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).

4 of 16

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).

5 of 16

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).

6 of 16

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).

7 of 16

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).

8 of 16

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).

9 of 16

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).

10 of 16

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).

11 of 16

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).

12 of 16

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).

13 of 16

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).

14 of 16

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).

15 of 16

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).

16 of 16


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