AQA · literature · poetry

Y11 – Power and Conflict quotes from Jennifer!

Hi Year 11

In a lunchtime revision session today, Jennifer shared this list of key quotes from all the poems. I said that I’d put it on the blog, so you need to thank Jen for the work.

Suggestion: for each of these poems, reduce the list to 3 quotes, each with three or four words only. To do this, it’s good to decide what are the absolutes about each poem. For example, with Prelude, we said that (a) you ABSOLUTELY need to talk about the sublime; (b) the relationship with nature – water = feminine; mountain = phallic  and masculine; (c) the shift in the poet’s feelings.  So our reduced quotes were: 

  • the horizons bound, a huge peak, black and huge”
  • “dipped my oars into the silent lake”
  • “there hung a darkness, call it solitude”

These three quotes are important because not only do they allow us to talk about the poem’s absolutes but they also contain some of those ‘neon’ words and techniques – personification, symbolism, repetition. There is enough in the words, whether it’s the adjectives, verbs, nouns, to offer a detailed and perceptive response.

We did the first few in our revision lesson and it threw up some interesting ideas. That idea of absolutes is important as it stops you trying to write about everything.


  • vast and trunkless legs of stone”
  • “My mane is Ozymandias, king of kings, look on my works ye mighty and despair”
  • “round the decay of that colossal wreck”
  • sneer of cold command
  • “shattered visage”


  • “chartered streets… chartered Thames”
  • “Marks of weakness marks of woe
  • “In every cry of man, in every infants cry of fear
  • “runs in blood down palace walls”
  • “mind-forg’d manacles”
  • “marriage hearse”

The Prelude

  • the horizons bound, a huge peak, black and huge”
  • “no familiar shapes remained”
  • “trouble to my dreams”
  • “troubled pleasure”
  • “dipped my oars into the silent lake”
  • “like a swan”
  • “there hung a darkness, call it solitude”

My Last Duchess

  • “my last Duchess painted on the wall, looking as if she were alive”
  • “The curtain I have drawn for you”
  • “-how shall I say?”
  • “too easily impressed”
  • “the bough of cherries from some officious fool”
  • “she thanked men…I know not how, as if she ranked my gift of a nine hundred year old name with anybodies gift”
  • “I gave commands; then all smiles stopped together”
  • “Notice Neptune, though, taming a seahorse”

Charge of the Light Brigade

  • “half a league, half a league, half a league onward, all in the valley of death”
  • “Rode the six hundred”
  • “Into the valley of death”
  • “Cannon to the right of them, cannon to the left of them, cannon in front of them”
  • “volley’d and thunder’d”
  • “someone had blundered”
  • “into the jaws of death, into the mouth of hell”
  • “Flash’d their sabres bare, flash’d as they turn’d in air”
  • “while horse and hero fell, they’d fought so well”
  • “When can their glory fade?”
  • “Honour the charge they made, honour the Light brigade, noble six hundred!”


  • “Our brains ache, in the merciless ice east winds that knife us”
  • “But nothing happens”
  • “Worried… curious, nervous”
  • “Like twitching agonies of men amongst its brambles”
  • “flickering gunnery rumbles”
  • “What are we doing here”
  • “Sudden successive streaks of bullets streak the silence”
  • “black with snow”
  • “flowing flakes that flock”
  • “Is it that we are dying”
  • “Shutters and doors, all closed: on us the doors are closed,-“
  • “We go back to our dying”
  • “Pause over half known faces. All their eyes are ice”

Storm on the Island

  • “”We are prepared:”
  • “we build our houses squat”
  • “Blast: you know what I mean-“
  • “pummels”
  • “Exploding comfortably”
  • “But no:”
  • “spits like a tame cat turned savage”
  • “we sit tight as the wind dives”
  • “space is a salvo”
  • “bombarded”
  • “It is a huge nothing we fear”

Bayonet Charge

  • “Suddenly he awoke”
  • “raw”
  • “Bullets smacking the belly out of the air”
  • “a rifle as numb as a smashed arm”
  • “patriotic tear”
  • “In what cold clockwork of the stars and the nations”
  • “his foot hung in stature mid stride”
  • “a yellow hare that rolled like a flame”
  • “King, honour, human dignity, etcetera”


  • “On another occasion”
  • “probably armed, possibly not”
  • “and all of us are of the same mind, so all three of us open fire”
  • “I see every round as it rips through his life- I see broad daylight on the other side”
  • “And he’s on the ground, sort of inside out”
  • “tosses his guts back into his body. Then he’s carted off in the back of a lorry”
  • “End of story, except not really”
  • “His blood shadow stays on the street”
  • “And the drink and drugs wont flush him out”
  • “He’s here in my head when I close my eyes”
  • “His bloody life in my bloody hands”


  • “Individual war graves”
  • “spasms of paper red”
  • “sellotape bandaged around my hand”
  • “smoothed down your shirt”
  • “the gelled blackthorns of your hair”
  • “I was brave”
  • “The world overflowing like a treasure chest”
  • “intoxicated”
  • “Released a song bird from it’s cage”
  • “My stomach busy making tucks, darts, pleats”
  • “Hoping to hear your playground voice catching on the wind”

War Photographer

  • “In his darkroom he is finally alone”
  • “With spools of suffering set out in ordered rows”
  • “All flesh is grass”
  • “his hands which did not seem to tremble then but seem to now”
  • “Of running children in nightmare heat”
  • “Something is happening”
  • “A strangers features slowly start to twist before my eyes, a half formed ghost”
  • “Blood stained into foreign dust”
  • “A hundred agonies in black and white”
  • “The readers eyeballs prick with tears between the bath and pre lunch beers”
  • “They do not care”


  • “Paper thinned by age or touching”
  • “In the back of the Koran”
  • “Pages smoothed stroked and turned”
  • “Maps too, the sun shines through their borderlines”
  • “Might fly our lives like paper kites”
  • “An architect could use all this, layer over layer”
  • “With living tissue”
  • “A structure never meant to last”
  • “Paper smoothed and stroked and thinned to be transparent”
  • “Turned into your skin”

The Emigree

  • “There once was a country”
  • “My memory of it is sunlight clear”
  • “my original view, the bright filled paperweight”
  • “It may be at war, it may be sick with tyrants”
  • “but I am branded by and impression of sunlight”
  • “the white streets”
  • “time rolls its tanks”
  • “child’s vocabulary”
  • “banned by the state but I cant get it off my mind. It tastes of sunlight”
  • “I have no passport, there no way back at all”
  • “but my city comes to me on a white plane”
  • “I comb its hair and love its shining eyes”
  • “City of walls”
  • “They circle me. They accuse me of being dark in their free city.”
  • “They mutter death and my shadow falls as evidence of sunlight”


  • “her father embarked at sunrise”
  • “full of powerful incantations”
  • “and enough fuel for a one way journey into history”
  • “at the little fishing boats strung out like bunting”
  • “on a green-blue translucent sea”
  • “a huge flag waved… in a figure of eight”
  • “shoals of fishes flashing silver as their bellies swivelled towards the sun”
  • “and he remember how he”
  • “cloud marked mackerel, black crabs, feathery prawns, a tuna, the dark prince, muscular and dangerous”
  • “And though he came back, mother never spoke again in his presence”
  • “They treated him as if he no longer existed”
  • “Till gradually we learnt to be silent”
  • “was no longer the father we loved”
  • “and sometimes, she said, he must have wondered which had been the better way to die”

Checking Out Me History

  • “Dem tell me, Dem tell me, What den want to tell me”
  • “Bandage up me eye with me own history”
  • “Blind me to me own identity”
  • “no dem never tell me bout dat”
  • “Beacon”
  • “and de cow who jumped over de balloon”
  • “A healing star”
  • “a yellow sunrise”
  • “But now I’m checking out me own history, I carving out me identity”

Hope it helps…

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