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The Falling Leaves English Analysis

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by

Debi Bertram

on 19 December 2012

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Transcript of The Falling Leaves English Analysis

By Aoife O'Gorman,
Debina Bertram
and Lucy Ortoli The Falling Leaves The Falling
Leaves About the author Margaret Postgate Cole (1893 – 1980) was a teacher for most of her life. From an early age, she was dedicated to political issues. She became a pacifist during WWI. As well as writing poetry, Cole participated in many big social and political issues of her time. She campaigned against the policy of conscription (when ordinary men are forced to join the armed forces and fight in the war) The Falling Leaves The poem begins with a date. The date is important because it is just after WWI. The leaves are representative of the men who have died in the war. In their death they have ‘dropped’ from the army which is represented in the symbolism of the tree. Brown could represent the uniforms of the army as the leaves represent the men Armies are strong which is reflected in the image of a tree. There being no wind suggests that their deaths are pointless, and not glorious or dramatic, as they are untouched as if no attention was paid to them. 'Sky' is perhaps referring to heaven and glory. The abnormality of there being no wind reflects the unnaturalness of war. ‘thickly, silently' suggest that many men were dying quietly and without objection. Men are compared to a snowflake which implies they are unique and delicate and disappear when they hit the ground. While the soldiers are beautiful in their glory but their humble deaths are quickly forgotten. The metaphor of snowflakes also alludes that every soldier is an individual this reminds the reader they are often generalised. ‘wiping out the noon’ There were so many of them that they must have blocked out the light. ‘gallant’ shows the author admires them for fighting, even they're fighting for no reason. This could imply that the author slowed her pace after she began thinking of the men and the war ‘age or pestilence’ they have not been killed by age or by a disease but by fellow men The image portrays a sense of decay and waste contrasting with the bravery of the soldiers when they were alive. This is shown through the alliteration of the 'w' sound. ‘withering’ – decaying and forgotten. ‘Beauty’ further suggests that they are young, whilst they are “strewed” – suggesting that they have been killed randomly with no purpose.
The reference to their beauty implies that were still very young when they died. At the end, we again get them compared to ‘snowflakes’ showing their purity, contrasted with the dirty ‘Flemish clay’ – emphasising that they die abroad and it is clear that she is referring to the battlefields of Flanders. It also portrays the youth of the soldiers to the reader as snowflakes melt so quickly. Themes and Ideas The main theme of the poem is war. While the author is going for a ride, the autumn leaves falling makes her think of the soldiers dying in the battlefields.
A lot of poetry of WWI was written by the men who fought in it. 'The Falling Leaves' provide a different perspective of war. It expresses the feelings of someone who is not on the battlefields but yet who feel the loss it brings. Form There are twelve lines of alternate lengths: first there are six syllables, followed by ten. The poem follows a strict rhyme scheme. The rhymes are in groups of three (lines 1 and 4, 2 and 5, 3 and 6, 7 and 10, 8 and 11 and 9 and 12).
The alternate lengths reflects the turbulent lives of the soldiers. Structure The poem is built from a series of contrasts (the short and long lines) (the first half and second half of the poem).
•In the first half, Cole sets up gentle contrasts between the rider and the leaves, then the leaves and snowflakes.
•In the second half of the poem, the poem is more angry, with contrasts between the dying soldiers and the snowflakes. Sound The '-ing' sound is repeated throughout the poem (dropping, whistling, wiping, thinking, withering and falling). This suggests continuance, the soldiers continuing to die in huge numbers. The poem is in the first person. This gives the reader a more personal connection to the events of the poem. The poem is only one sentence. It is not exactly enjambment. It is like a gust of thoughts coming from the author when she saw the autumn leaves falling. What did you think of the poem and its meanings?
Did you understand it? Why/Why not?
Did you like the way Cole interpreted her ideas?

Discuss in pairs or groups of three.
Share your ideas with the class. Page 45 Thank you for your attention!
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