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• Whats it worth: 35% of your English Literature
Exam Timings: 1 hour 15 mins
This Section: Spend 45 minutes on this
Structure: Comparing 1 poem to another.
The Clown Punk
• The Clown Punk lives in 'the shonky side of town'
• He washes car windscreens for a living.
• Armitage uses a simile to compare him to a 'basket of washing'.
• This makes him seem dirty like unwashed clothes in a laundry
• Because of his tattooed appearance, his 'deflated face' and his
'shrunken scalp', the Clown Punk would appear frightening to the
• Phrases such as 'deflated face' and 'shrunken scalp' have
connotations of something deteriorating - i.e deflating and
• References to colour, such as to the 'indelible ink' of his 'sad tattoos'
and the 'pixels' of his skin, emphasise the clown like appearance of
the clown punk, which contrasts with the sadness of his situation.
The Clown Punk
• The full rhyme in the final couplet of this sonnet draws our
attention to Armitage's closing metaphor for the clown punks mind.
'Brain' is rhymed with 'rain' to convey the idea that it is raining in
the clown punks mind which means his thoughts are distorted - like
the 'windscreen' before it is wiped clean.
• Armitage wants readers to feel sympathetic towards the clown
punk because he urges us to 'remember the clown punk with his
dyed brain', that is, we should think about what he is like inside and
what he has been through, rather than just dismissing him as a
'clown' who washes windscreens at the traffic lights.
• The speaker tells us 'don't laugh', which reveals his
sympathetic attitude towards the clown punk. It also appears as if
he is addressing his own children when he says this, as he refers
directly to 'you kinds in the back seat'.
Checking Out Me History
• In this poem Agard introduces us to real events in history such as '1066
and all dat', 'Lord Nelson and Waterloo', 'Florence Nightingale and she
• He then compares them to characters from childrens stories such as 'Dick
Whittington'. He also compares them to nursery rhymes such as 'de dish
ran away with de spoon'.
• Then black historical figures such as Touissant L'Ouverture, Nanny de
Maroon and Mary Seacole.
• Words that suggest the speakers admiration include 'vision' and 'beacon'
for L'Ouverture, 'see-far' and 'hopeful' for de Maroon, and 'brave' and
'healing' for Seacole.
• The short lines suggest that these historical figures have been excluded or
marginalised from history as it is taught at school or as it appears in official
history books. The short lines reflect the fact that there isn't much written
about, or said about, these people in history as it was taught to the
Checking Out Me History
• The words that present Nanny as a myth like character include 'see far woman',
which makes her sound as if she has profetic vision like a character or oracle from
a greek myth, and 'fire woman', which presents her as if she is different from a
normal woman and more like a fantastical character, with special powers, from a
mythical story. However the words 'struggle' and 'hopeful' also present her as a
real woman fighting for freedom in real historical circumstances.
• These phrases make her seem powerful - 'fire woman' - and present her as a vital
part of the historical struggle of black people: in Agard's Metaphor here, she is a
'stream' that feeds the 'river of freedom'.
• After the simple rhymes of 'go', 'no' and 'snow' the poem shifts in tone to become
more positive and more conventionally literary. This shift is brought about by
Agard moving from the very literal, simply rhyming lines used to describe how
Seacole defied the British to travel to the Crimean war, to use two metaphors to
describe Seacole's role and the effect she had. Here she is described as a 'healing
star' and a 'yellow sunrise', bright, light images that contrast sharply with the
'russian snow', and represent things that people could look up to - in contrast to
the way the British looked down on her by trying to prevent her going.
Checking Out Me History
• 'Dem' are the people who have taught the speaker the
official 'white' history has been compelled to learn, though
they are perhaps also all the people who perpetuate this
way of thinking about history - including politicians,
perhaps - that is, people who do not want black people to
be aware of the significance of black figures in history.
• In the final two lines, the speaker uses the first person for
the first time - 'I checking out me own history' and 'I carving
out me own identity' - to draw attention to the fact that he
is now going to play an active part in understanding his own
history, rather than simply having to listen to what others
tell him, and therefore in forgiving his own sense of
• The speaker's very positive attitude towards horses is clear from the
language used to describe them, such as descriptions of their
'shimmering muscles', the metaphor 'tender giants' and the closing
recollection of their 'searing breath' and 'glistening veins'.
• The speaker sees him or herself as a witch like figure with
mysterious magical powers, using a 'charm' such as a 'frog's
wishbone' to calm the horses, and when describing the revenge he
or she later carries out, the word 'hex' is also used, which shows us
the way in which the speaker sees their actions as like casting a
spell - and in this case, an evil one.
• The character clearly cares deeply for the horses and feels a sense
of affinity with them; yet it also seems clear that the way she has
been treated by the people who at first demand his or her services,
then persecute and drive the speaker out, has led the speaker to
see his or herself partly in the negative way they have been seen by
• Perhaps the 'secret' worked because the horses responded to the foals
blood on the 'spongy tissue'. However, perhaps it is more credible that the
horses simply respond positively to someone who treats them kindly and
respectfully, rather than try to hitch them to a 'plough'.
• The 'legacy of whisperers' would appear to be the tradition of horse
whispering that the speaker wanted to continue and protect - but which
was infact extinguished by the arrival of 'the tractor', which decreased the
reliance of farmers on horses and therefore also their need for the horse
• The speakers description of their flight from the country as being part of a
'stampede' makes it sound as if the horse whisperers thought of
themselves as similar to the horses they helped. The term makes horse
whisperers themselves sound like the 'restless' horses mentioned in stanza
• The rhythm of the final stanza reflects the 'steady tread' of the horses that
the speaker mentions here, with the listing of types of horses an their
qualities, including the repetition of the word 'pride'.
• Medusa is a poem in modern writing of the story of Medusa.
• Medusa was a once beautiful woman who was transformed into a
horrible monster by the Greek goddess Athena.
Most notably, Athena punished Medusa by turning her hair into a
seething mass of
snakes. Any person who looked into her eyes was instantly turned
• The 4th Stanza has a metaphor for how 'medusa' feels the world is.
'I glanced at a singing bird, a handful of dusty gravel spattered
down.' Everything that she looks at turns to stone.
• Poem ends with a tragic, self-pitying tone, but with a violent and
vengeful twist since whoever 'looks' at Medusa will be turned to
• The poem doesn't rhyme which shows that the poem is very
• 'Singh Song' is a poem about a son who has to run one of his fathers
corner shops and he doesn't really like doing it.
• The title of the poem is a pun. A 'sing song' would be where people are
singing which maybe refers to the fact that it's a poem and 'Singh' is a
name given to someone who is a Sikh and it is likely that the person
running the shop is a Sikh.
• In the 2nd stanza the line where it says 'like vee rowing through Putney' is
clever. The Oxford - Cambridge boat race goes through Putney and
'Putney' actually means wife so it is imagery of when they are making love.
• The poem is written in a dialect used by asian people when they are in
england. 'We' is pronounced 'vee' and 'want' is pronounced 'vant'. There
are many more examples of this as you go through the poem.
• Near the end of the poem when the two characters are talking to each
other about how much they love each other, Nagra uses shop keepers
language where he says 'half di cost ov yoo baby'. Half price is the sort of
thing that shop keepers would do to attract customers.
• Brendon Gallacher is about a six year old who has an imaginary friend and is
talking about how good he is all through the poem.
• The name 'Brendon Gallacher' is like a refrain in this poem - it recurs from the title
• In the first stanza the speaker is talking about 'Brendon Gallacher's' family. The
speaker always makes Brendons family sound better than their own family. The
speaker does this to make the parents feel bad that they aren't as good as they
• The first stanza is full of comparisons between the speakers family and Brendons
family. The first is 'he was seven and I was six' and there are others such as 'He was
Irish and I was Scottish' and 'He had six brothers and I had one.
• The first line in the second stanza says 'He would hold my hand and take me by the
river'. Brendon is created because the speaker doesn't have any friends and
probably wants one.
• The line 'how his mum drank and his daddy was a cat burglar' sounds like a child
speaking, even though the poem is in the voice of an older person looking back.
• The speaker seems to be asking someone for money: he offers to do
things for money, such as 'dance' or 'sing', says all he wants is 'just change'
and closes by saying 'I beg of you'. There may also be a suggestion that the
beggar in the poem knows the person they are talking to, as the speaker
addresses them as 'dear' at the start.
• The person the beggar is talking to responds by buying the beggar a cup of
tea - 'you give me tea', reports the speaker. It seems, therefore, that the
beggar's elaborate appeal has not been particularly effective: the tea
seems very insignificant when you consider what the beggar has said.
• The beggar's resentment at having to beg is apparent from the way he
speaks at the start of the poem, in a tone that could be considered
sarcastic. He addresses the person from whom he is asking for money as
'dear', suggesting he views them as equal or even perhaps looks down on
them in a slightly patronising way. The beggar also declares that he has
'chosen' their doorway to sleep in, as if the person who they are talking to
should be honoured.
• By repeating the phrase 'I've chosen' (in 'I've chosen here' and 'I've chosen
yours') the beggar presents himself at the start of the poem as if he is in
control of his situation: he has chosen this place and this person. The
emphasis on the words 'here' and 'dear' and by the repetition of 'i've
chosen', indicate the ways in which the beggar is trying to flatter the
person they are speaking to.
• The voice of the beggar becomes increasingly desperate as the poem
progresses. At first he is charming, even playing on traditional romantic
imagery - he is 'under the stars', he says. However from the mid point of
the poem the tone begins to change. First, the beggar says he will 'dance
or sing' for money, then implies that he is willing to do unpleasant things
such as 'swallow swords, eat fire', before saying that he will 'escape from
locks and chains', which perhaps suggests the desperation with which he
wants to 'escape' from his own situation. Moreover, when he says he
wants 'just change', it seems that it is said in a broader sense - he wants
his situation itself to change, not just people's loose change. Finally
the closing sentence - 'I beg of you' - contrasts starkly with the charming
tone of the opening, in its open, desperate plea'.
• The short length and simplicity of the final lines underlines the fact that
the overall message of the poem is simple - indeed, it is that contained in
the title: we should 'give' to people in this situation. The half-rhymes here
also emphasise the contrast between the circumstances of the beggar in
his desperation and the person they are asking for money from. The latter
is, perhaps sarcatically, described as 'big', for giving the beggar tea; this is
contrasted sharply with 'beg', which is all the beggar is able to do.
Les Grands Seigneurs
• Les Grands Seigneurs is a poem about how men treat this woman.
• The speaker compares men to different types of birds: 'peacocks', 'cockatoos',
'nightingales' and 'pink flamingos'; to 'dolphins' and 'seals', and to 'sailing ships'.
• Male peacocks are known for their extravagant tail feathers, which they display to
attract females, so by using this metaphor for men here the speaker may be
implying that these types of men were either very attractive or that they like
showing off (or both). By contrast, the metaphor of men being 'ballast in her hold'
suggests men who were more supportive or reliable, providing balance in the
speaker's life, as ballast provides balance and stability in ships.
• In the third stanza the speaker describes how men looked up to her as something
desirable but unobtainable: 'their queen out of reach'.
• The past tense is used to describe all the different types of men she has known in
the first two stanzas, suggesting that she no longer sees men in this way - or
indeed, that men now view her differently.
• The use of the word 'but' at the start of the final stanza makes it clear that a
contrast to the rest of the poem will be introduced.
Les Grands Seigneurs
• More modern colloquial language is used in the final stanza, such as
'bedded', 'plaything' and 'bit of fluff'. This contrasts sharply with the
more formal and elevated language of earlier stanzas that draw on
the imagery of traditional love poetry in phrases such as
'troubadour, damsel and peach' of stanza three, and the 'buttress'
and 'castellated towers' of stanza one. This shift in register
reinforces the central idea in the poem that men treated her well in
the past - evoked by the more archaic language - but do not in the
• Although she uses the imagery of traditional love poetry in stanza
three, the speaker says that her and her lovers only 'played at
courtly love'. This suggests that the romance referred to didn't take
place at a time when the conventions of courtly love were adhered
to; rather, the speaker wanted to be involved in courtly love, but
could only 'play' at it.
Les Grands Seigneurs
• All the things the woman has now become indicate a power relationship in
which she is looked down upon and treated as an object by her husband.
Her husband treats her as a 'toy' and a 'plaything', and calls her a 'little
woman' - in marked contrast to the way she used to be viewed by men, as
• The suggestion is that men pursued her in the hope of marrying her and
therefore being able to sleep with her: the connection between the two is
clear from the rhyme 'wedded, bedded' at the start of the final stanza.
Once she has been 'bedded' on the wedding night, however, the man
stops trying to please her - he has now obtained what was once 'out of
• In the line 'called my bluff', the suggestion is that the woman was acting in
a certain way to attract men - an idea supported by the fact she tells us
she 'played at courtly love', at being 'a damsel'. Then once she is married,
her husband behaves as if she wasn't simply acting or 'playing', but that
she really is like this. She 'played' at being a 'damsel'; now she is taken at
her word and, in a modern, more prosaic version of this role, is treated by
her husband as 'a little woman' and 'bit of fluff'.
• The adjectives 'trunkless' and 'shatter'd' underline the central idea in the poem of
the inevitable decline and decay of once powerful and imposing figures, as the
describe something that is incomplete and broken. The word 'shatter'd' also has
connotations of force of violence, which also links to the poems implication that
power, if exercised in a 'cold' way, may bring about its own destruction.
• The words 'frown' and 'cold command' tells us that character of Ozymandias was
stern, and that he led ('commanded') his people in an unfeeling, perhaps cruel,
• The remains of the statue are literally 'lifeless' because they are made of 'stone',
though the term 'lifeless' obviously also implies the idea of death, reminding us
that this poem is not so much about the statue itself; rather, it is about death and
decline in significance of Ozymandias himself.
• These words, when they were inscribed in the statue, were a declaration of
Ozymandias's power (as well as an indication of his arrogance). In the context of
the poem, though, they are ironic: 'travellers' happening upon the ruined statue
will now consider Ozymandias's fall from power, rather than his might.
• Shelley may have used this very short sentence here to underline the fact that
'nothing' remains of Ozymandias's kingdom - only this broken reminder of his
• It is placed after the arrogant declaration inscribed on the statue to emphasise the
ironic contrast between how Ozymandias viewed himself and how he is viewed,
when people see this broken statue of him.
• The use of caesura here - the full stop after 'remains' - makes the thought seem so
• The adjectives in the last two lines - such as 'colossal', 'boundless', 'bare', 'lone'
and 'level' - emphasise both the size of the 'wreck' of the statue, and the vastness
of the desert in which it now lies. This reinforces the idea in the poem that the
greatest and mightiest are ultimately as insignificant as everyone else - simply a
speck in the desert.
• The rhythm of the final line, in iambic pentameter, creates a feeling of steady
onward movement - like that of the seemingly endless 'lone and level sands'
• One reason Shelley sets the fallen in an 'antique land' may be to convey the idea
that great rulers and civilisations existed in the ancient past, though now only ruins
of them remain. However, Shelley is also vague about exactly where the traveller
saw the wrecked statue because he wants to make the point that this happens to
all powerful rulers and their kingdoms.
My Last Duchess
• This poem is loosely based on historical events involving Alfonso, the Duke
of Ferrara, who lived in the 16th century. The Duke is the speaker of the poem, and
tells us he is entertaining an emissary who has come to negotiate the Duke’s
marriage (he has recently been widowed) to the daughter of another powerful
• The Duke is jealous that the duchess 'blushes' when men walk past.
• In the middle of the poem, the speaker uses lots lots of dashes which shows that
he might not be that confident.
• Caesura is used in line 46 where it says 'Then all smiles stopped together. There
she stands' to show where the duchess has been killed.
• The duke wants to marry the counts daughter.
• The rhyming couplets in the poem keep tying the duke's speech into tidy packages,
even though his thoughts and sentences are untidy.
• The poem is written in iambic pentameter.
• This poem is a dramatic monologue, a poem in which the speaker reveals things
about himself which he may or may not know. A lot is revealed about the duchess
The River God
• The River God is a poem about a River God that takes women and drowns
them in the river.
• The poem is a dramatic monologue which gives the opinion of only the
• The poem is written in free verse which could suggest that the speaker is
free and has a laid back view of life.
• The rhyme scheme isn't consistent but there is some rhyme throughout
• The rhyming couplets in the poem are used to make it sound lighthearted.
• In line 17 where it says 'She lies in my beautiful river bed with many a
weed' the writer cleverly uses phallic imagery with the word 'weed'. To
give you a clue, phallus means penis so you should be able to work out
what he's saying.
• In line 4, the River God is talking about his personal activities where he
'likes the people to bathe in me, especially women. This shows us that the
River God isn't a very nice character.
On a Portrait of a Deaf Man – John
• Structure – 8 quatrains where lines 2 and 4 rhyme - Elegy and a Ballad.
The rhyme and rhythm give it harmony which is suitable for some of the
more positive ideas, but can be strange when reading some of the more
• The poet is mourning his dead father, and describes his fond memories of
him. Many of the memories are described to evoke the senses; taste,
smells, sights. He talks about how his father dressed, what he ate and the
things that they used to do together.
• However, these ideas are juxtaposed against very harsh images of his
father’s decaying body ‘maggots in his eyes’, ‘now his finger-bones Stick
through his finger-ends’. There is an implication that he is at his father’s
cemetery, feeling very bitter about his loss.
• His bitterness comes to a climax in the final stanza when he reveals his
lack of faith in God ‘You ask me to believe you and I only see decay’. The
decay could indicate his father’s body or a decay in his faith in God.
Casehistory: Alison (head injury) - UA
• itle – factual, medical, unusual
• A monologue, but almost sounds like a conversation with herself.
• Structure and form - Unusual and disjointed. It starts with stage directions
‘(she looks at her photograph)’ a sense on detachment is already evident.
The first 9 stanzas look similar; they contain 3 lines and the middle line is
significantly larger than the others. This adds to the ‘random’ and
disjointed ideas, we noticed that it was a lot more difficult to read than
The Ruined Maid. There are caesuras used within lines which highlight
Alison’s confusion and inability to clear her own ideas.
• Mixture of pronouns and tenses – Alison refers to the past, present and
future – they are all intertwined and she cannot make sense of her life.
She refers to her present self using ‘I’, but when referring to past events
she uses ‘she’ or ‘her” revealing a detachment from her former self.
• Imagery – Lots of juxtaposition to show the contrast between her old and
current life: ‘enmeshed in comforting fat… delicate angles’, ‘airy poise…
lugs me upstairs’, ‘Her face, broken… smiles’, ‘clever girl… damaged brain’.