AQA Poetry: Power and Conflict


War Photographer – Carol Ann Duffy


v  A war photographer is in his darkroom developing pictures that he has taken in war zones across the world.

v  As the pictures develop so does his memories of the death and cries.

v  Final stanza is showing how people in England wont care about what is going on elsewhere.


v  Four equal stanzas

v  Regular rhyme scheme

v  Set out in ordered rows like the photographers spools

v  The photographer is delicate and cares about his work and it is seen in how the poem is ordered.

v  Enjambment shows the gradual reveal of the photo as it develops.


v  Poem follows the thoughts of the photographer in his dark room

v  A photo has been revealed by the third stanza so the specific death is remembered.


v  Religious imagery is used as references to religion make the photographer seem like a priest conducting a funeral, like there is a ceremony in his actions.

v  A contrast between the safe and calm of England to the death and unpredictable nature of the war zone. A contrast between a grieving widow and how the eyes of English people just ***** with tears.

v  Ironic how the photographer is detached in the war zones but affected at home.


v  “spools of suffering set out in ordered rows”- reels of film described like soldiers or like rows of graces. It is a paradox because the chaos and suffering is reduced to something ordered.

v  “as though this were a church” “a priest preparing to intone a mass”- simile used to show the seriousness of the situation, as though there is a funeral mass going on.

v  “Belfast. Beirut. Phnom Penh” – succession of plosive sounds makes it sound like gunfire. A litany, as if it is in a mass and these places that have all seen war are grouped together.

v  “all flesh is grass”- intertextuality, a quote from the bible which means that human life is only temporary.

v  “his hands, which did not tremble then” – ironic how he was calm in the chaos but his mind was at chaos when he reached the calm.

v  “something is happening” – Volta in the place where the focus is switched to the personal cost of war, he is remembering a specific death and it's impact.

v  “half-formed ghost”- the photograph is still developing so it is only half-formed but also the body could have been mutilated. Another view is that the persons family and friends have not yet had time to mourn their loss so their ghost can not be truly formed.

v  “blood stained into foreign dust.”- all happening in another place and stained suggests that the effects are long lasting.

v  “A hundred agonies in black


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