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Grey Psittacus

on 16 February 2013

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GCSE English Literature
AQA Moon on the Tides From the Londale Revision Plus AQA Anthology comapnion Cluster 3: Conflict The fifteen poems in Cluster are about conflict. The conflicts are all violent , but each poet looks at violence and conflict in a different way. In the exam (if this is in the exam) you will have to make connections between poems, looking at differences and similarities in the subject matter, and in how the poets present their ideas about conflict.

Some of them are about an incident in a real war or armed conflct, retold by someoe involved in it. Belfat Confetti is about Northern Ireland. In this poem we get the sense that the poet was there and witnessed the events.

The poems that you studied would fit into these categories:
Power: Flag
The horror(s) of war: Belfast Confetti
The futility of war: Flag
Patriotism: The Right Word
Combatants: The Right Word
Civilians: The Right Word, Belfast Confetti, Out of the Blue
Fear: The Right Word, Out of the Blue, Belfast Confetti
Hope: The Right Word, Out of the Blue Remember that responding to poetry is not just about 'translating' or 'decoding' a poem's meaning. It is about what the poem makes you think and how it makes you feel. How do you respond to these poems? How do they make you feel about war and conflict? Flag - John Agard The Poet John Agard was born in British Guiana (Guyana) in the West Indies in 1949. He moved to Britain in 1977 and has written many poems about his struggle to find a sense of identity as a man of mixed race and about the culture and history of the West Indies. Content Someone asks a series of questions about flags. What are they? The poet gives a cynical answer to each question. He answers literally, saying that a flag is just a piece of cloth, but then says what, as a flag, it represents. Conflict The poem is not about a particular war, but uses the symbol of a flag to express the poet's feelings about war and imperialism. The flags could be the flags of any nation. Ideas, Themes and Issues Patriotism: a flag symbolises a country. People, especially soldiers, salute the flag to show loyalty to their country. According to the poet, patriotism is harmful, causing violence and death.
Imperialism: flags are planted to lay claim to land. A flag can show that one nation has conquered another. The flag becomes a symbol of oppression and suffering.
War and conscience: the flag 'blinds' people's consciences, perhaps giving them an excuse not to think about the morality of what they are doing. Form, Structure and Language The poem consists of a series of questions and answers. The questions are rhetorical, but the use of the phrase 'my friend' in the final stanza seems ironic (in the interests of this poem) and suggests that the poem is a dialogue between two people.
The first stanzas are very similar in form. The first line of each stanza starts with the same two words and the second line of each is identical. In the final stanza the question changes.
Each stanza has three lines with the first and second lines rhyming, sometimes with a full rhyme and at other times with a half rhyme. The final stanza changes the pattern and ends with a rhyming couplet, giving the sense that these lines sum up the previous four answers.
We know from the title that the subject is a flag, but in the repeated line about a flag being only a piece of cloth, Agard diminishes and mocks the idea of the flag, taking away its power and symbolism.
He makes us question the idea of the flag by personifying it, drawing attention to the absurdity of such an insignificant thing causing so much suffering.
The first four stanzas have a strong regular rhythm, with four stressed syllables in the first and third lines and three in the second. With the rhyme, this makes the poem upbeat and rather childish, in contrast with the serious subject matter. It is easy to read aloud. The final stanza does not follow the pattern, making the reader slow down. It is more thoughtful and downbeat. Out of the Blue extract - Simon Armitage
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