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Apply Your Understanding of Language Techniques to both 'Poppies' and 'War Photographer' and Analyse Their Effect

In this worksheet, students will identify the language techniques used in both 'Poppies' and 'War Photographer' and explain their effect on the reader.

'Apply Your Understanding of Language Techniques to both 'Poppies' and 'War Photographer' and Analyse Their Effect' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

GCSE Subjects:   English Literature

GCSE Boards:   AQA, Pearson Edexcel

Curriculum topic:   Poetry, Poetry Anthology Collections

Curriculum subtopic:   Power and Conflict: 'Poppies', Conflict: 'Poppies'

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

For this activity, you will need to turn to the poem 'Poppies' by Jane Weir and 'War Photographer' by Carol Ann Duffy. Both poems can be found in the Power and Conflict section of your anthology.

 

Both poems contain powerful emotions, but what links them the most is that they are both told from the perspective of someone not involved in the fighting, but still facing the consequences of it.

 

soldiers            camera

 

The main themes running throughout the poems are grief, war, loss, memory, childhood, innocence and adulthood.

 

In the following questions, you will look at the language techniques used in both poems.

 

You should always refer to your own text when working through these examples. These quotations are for reference only.

cemetery with poppies

 

In order to identify the language techniques in 'Poppies' and 'War Photographer', we need to understand their meaning. Read the poem 'Poppies' and match the questions to the correct answers below:

Column A

Column B

Who is the speaker in this poem?
A poppy
What does the mother recall playing with her son?
Being Eskimos
What does she compare his gelled hair with?
The mother
What does she remember pinning to his lapel?
Blackthorns
What does the speaker release from its cage?
A songbird

 

modern day soldiers

 

Now read the poem 'War Photographer' and match the questions to their answers below:

Column A

Column B

Where has the narrator just come from?
The narrator has been in a country of conflict tak...
What does the narrator do as soon as they arrive h...
He feels that they do not understand how bad the c...
How does the narrator feel about the conflict they...
The narrator goes to the dark room to process the ...
How does the narrator feel about the people back i...
The narrator is shocked and saddened by the suffer...

Language techniques are used throughout both 'Poppies' and 'War Photographer'. They are a fantastic way of creating imagery for the reader.

 

Can you match the language technique to the definition?

Column A

Column B

Alliteration
Comparing two or more objects with words 'like' or...
Simile
Words beginning with the same letter sounds
Onomatopoeia
Direct comparison of two things without using word...
Metaphor
Words which sound like the effect they describe
Personification
Describing an inanimate object or animal with huma...

Both 'Poppies' and 'War Photographer' use metaphor to describe how the narrators are feeling about the conflict and people harmed by it.

 

 

Dove

In 'Poppies' the mother uses metaphor to describe how she feels and also to describe how her son has 'flown the nest'.

 

Read the following quotations which are all taken from 'Poppies'. Choose two which you think are the metaphors mentioned above.

"Sellotape bandaged around my hand"

"On reaching the top of the hill I traced"

"Later a single dove flew from the pear tree"

"All my words flattened, rolled, turned into felt"

Now, let's compare the use of metaphor in 'Poppies' with the use of metaphor in 'War Photographer'.

 

old photo

 

The narrator of 'War Photographer' uses metaphor to refer to the photos being developed. The metaphor creates the impression that these are more than just photos to the War Photographer.

 

Read the quotations below from 'War Photographer'. Choose two quotations that you think are the metaphors described above.

"He remembers the cries of this man’s wife"

"...a half-formed ghost"

"The reader’s eyeballs prick with tears"

"A hundred agonies in black-and-white"

Both 'Poppies' and 'War Photographer' use the semantic field of conflict to create an impression of the violence and destruction of war.

 

In 'Poppies' the mother uses many words which you would associate with war and violence.


The words below are all taken from the poem 'Poppies'. Which words would you associate with conflict, and which would you not?

 Words associated with conflictWords NOT associated with conflict
Poppies
Yellow
Armistice Sunday
Petals
War graves
Reinforcememts
Blockade
Smoothed

Now, let's compare the use of the semantic field of conflict in 'Poppies' with the use of it in 'War Photographer'.

 

explosion

 

The poet of 'War Photographer' uses very violent language to create the impression that the people involved in conflict lead a very difficult and tragic life.

 

The words below are all taken from the poem 'War Photographer'. Which words would you associate with conflict, and which words would you not?

 Words associated with conflictWords NOT associated with conflict
Explode
Softly
Running children
Nightmare heat
Blood stained into foreign dust
Eyes
Grass

Both 'Poppies' and 'War Photographer' use religious imagery to signify the importance of the people who have died in the conflict.

 

In 'Poppies' the mother visits the churchyard as this is where she feels close to her son and uses religious metaphors to describe her emotions.

 

thorn

 

The quotations below are all taken from the poem 'Poppies'. Choose two quotations which you think create religious imagery.

"The dove pulled freely against the sky"

"Sellotape bandaged around my hand"

"The gelled blackthorns of your hair"

"After you'd gone I went into your bedroom"

Now, let's compare the use of religious imagery in 'Poppies', with the use of religious imagery in 'War Photographer.'

 

 

church candles

 

'War Photographer' uses religious imagery to show the respect that the narrator feels for the people he has photographed in conflict. The task of developing film, which could be done without emotion, is given the time and peace that the photographer thinks it deserves.

 

Read the extract below, taken from 'War Photographer'. Underline the words you would associate with religious imagery.

"The only light is red and softly glows, as though this were a church and he a priest preparing to intone a Mass"

war memorial

Read the following quotations from 'Poppies' and 'War Photographer'. How do they reflect the sadness that both narrators feel?

 

"...leaned against it like a wishbone"

 

"Hands which did not tremble then
though seem to now"

 

In this part of the exam, you will be asked to write a comparison of two poems from the Power and Conflict cluster. For this question, you will have to write your own answer using the PEE format - Make a POINT, give an EXAMPLE, EXPLAIN with deeper detail.

  • Question 1

cemetery with poppies

 

In order to identify the language techniques in 'Poppies' and 'War Photographer', we need to understand their meaning. Read the poem 'Poppies' and match the questions to the correct answers below:

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

Who is the speaker in this poem?
The mother
What does the mother recall playi...
Being Eskimos
What does she compare his gelled ...
Blackthorns
What does she remember pinning to...
A poppy
What does the speaker release fro...
A songbird
EDDIE SAYS
The poem is about the nature of grief. The mother is speaking directly to her son, but a son who shifts in time. There is: The son leaving home for school on his own for the first time. The son who has just been killed. Beneath the surface the son dying violently in a field hospital in Afghanistan.
  • Question 2

 

modern day soldiers

 

Now read the poem 'War Photographer' and match the questions to their answers below:

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

Where has the narrator just come ...
The narrator has been in a countr...
What does the narrator do as soon...
The narrator goes to the dark roo...
How does the narrator feel about ...
The narrator is shocked and sadde...
How does the narrator feel about ...
He feels that they do not underst...
EDDIE SAYS
Carol Ann Duffy has friends who are 'War Photographers' and she has always been fascinated by a job that requires people to record terrible events, without being able to actually help anyone. The poem describes the difficulties of the war photographer as they struggle to deal with moving between a country in conflict and a peaceful country, where people often take things for granted. The poem also asks us, as readers, to think about our own reaction to the images of conflict which we see in the media.
  • Question 3

Language techniques are used throughout both 'Poppies' and 'War Photographer'. They are a fantastic way of creating imagery for the reader.

 

Can you match the language technique to the definition?

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

Alliteration
Words beginning with the same let...
Simile
Comparing two or more objects wit...
Onomatopoeia
Words which sound like the effect...
Metaphor
Direct comparison of two things w...
Personification
Describing an inanimate object or...
EDDIE SAYS
Well done if you matched them all! The techniques above are just a few of the ones frequently used in poetry. They are really useful to use when writing an explanation of a quotation, as they help to describe how an effect has been created. They also bump up your marks when used correctly!
  • Question 4

Both 'Poppies' and 'War Photographer' use metaphor to describe how the narrators are feeling about the conflict and people harmed by it.

 

 

Dove

In 'Poppies' the mother uses metaphor to describe how she feels and also to describe how her son has 'flown the nest'.

 

Read the following quotations which are all taken from 'Poppies'. Choose two which you think are the metaphors mentioned above.

CORRECT ANSWER
"Later a single dove flew from the pear tree"
"All my words flattened, rolled, turned into felt"
EDDIE SAYS
A metaphor is a figure of speech that is used to make a comparison between two things, not using the words 'like' or 'as'. The quotation "Later a single dove flew from the pear tree" is a metaphor, as the narrator is comparing the setting free of the dove to the setting free of her son. The quotation "All my words flattened, rolled, turned into felt" is another metaphor, as the mother is using this description to explain how she feels that her words are unable to make a sound.
  • Question 5

Now, let's compare the use of metaphor in 'Poppies' with the use of metaphor in 'War Photographer'.

 

old photo

 

The narrator of 'War Photographer' uses metaphor to refer to the photos being developed. The metaphor creates the impression that these are more than just photos to the War Photographer.

 

Read the quotations below from 'War Photographer'. Choose two quotations that you think are the metaphors described above.

CORRECT ANSWER
"...a half-formed ghost"
"A hundred agonies in black-and-white"
EDDIE SAYS
'Poppies' and 'War Photographer' both use metaphors to create an impression of how the narrators are feeling about conflict and the damage it can cause. The quotation "a half-formed ghost" is used to explain how the narrator sees the people who have died as still being important, he is not ready to just lose their image, so describes them as coming back as a 'ghost'. The quotation "A hundred agonies in black-and-white" creates a similar image, with the use of colour explaining how clearly he still sees them.
  • Question 6

Both 'Poppies' and 'War Photographer' use the semantic field of conflict to create an impression of the violence and destruction of war.

 

In 'Poppies' the mother uses many words which you would associate with war and violence.


The words below are all taken from the poem 'Poppies'. Which words would you associate with conflict, and which would you not?

CORRECT ANSWER
 Words associated with conflictWords NOT associated with conflict
Poppies
Yellow
Armistice Sunday
Petals
War graves
Reinforcememts
Blockade
Smoothed
EDDIE SAYS
A semantic field is a set of words which are related in meaning. So Jane Weir has used many words which we would immediately associate with conflict. This gives the impression that although the main part of the poem takes place in the safety of the home, there is conflict waiting for the son.
  • Question 7

Now, let's compare the use of the semantic field of conflict in 'Poppies' with the use of it in 'War Photographer'.

 

explosion

 

The poet of 'War Photographer' uses very violent language to create the impression that the people involved in conflict lead a very difficult and tragic life.

 

The words below are all taken from the poem 'War Photographer'. Which words would you associate with conflict, and which words would you not?

CORRECT ANSWER
 Words associated with conflictWords NOT associated with conflict
Explode
Softly
Running children
Nightmare heat
Blood stained into foreign dust
Eyes
Grass
EDDIE SAYS
'War Photographer' also uses the semantic field of conflict, as Duffy uses lots of violent description to create an impression of how much of a 'nightmare' the conflict is. We also get a sense of the pain that the people have to go through.
  • Question 8

Both 'Poppies' and 'War Photographer' use religious imagery to signify the importance of the people who have died in the conflict.

 

In 'Poppies' the mother visits the churchyard as this is where she feels close to her son and uses religious metaphors to describe her emotions.

 

thorn

 

The quotations below are all taken from the poem 'Poppies'. Choose two quotations which you think create religious imagery.

CORRECT ANSWER
"The dove pulled freely against the sky"
"The gelled blackthorns of your hair"
EDDIE SAYS
The poem has links to religion all the way through; from the memorials in the churchyard to the religious references the mother makes towards her son. The quotation "The dove pulled freely against the sky" is a link to the dove as a symbol of peace, often used in religious art. When the dove appears, the narrator is suggesting that this is a sign of her son. The quotation "the gelled blackthorns of your hair" is a reference to the crown of thorns worn by Jesus - is the narrator implying that she believes her son is going to sacrifice himself?
  • Question 9

Now, let's compare the use of religious imagery in 'Poppies', with the use of religious imagery in 'War Photographer.'

 

 

church candles

 

'War Photographer' uses religious imagery to show the respect that the narrator feels for the people he has photographed in conflict. The task of developing film, which could be done without emotion, is given the time and peace that the photographer thinks it deserves.

 

Read the extract below, taken from 'War Photographer'. Underline the words you would associate with religious imagery.

CORRECT ANSWER
"The only light is red and softly glows,
as though this were a church and he
a priest preparing to intone a Mass"
EDDIE SAYS
In this quotation, the war photographer is describing the 'ceremony' of preparing to develop the pictures. It describes the great care they take and uses a simile to compare the photographer to a "priest", suggesting that the pictures are as important to the photographer as a religious ceremony is to a priest.
  • Question 10

war memorial

Read the following quotations from 'Poppies' and 'War Photographer'. How do they reflect the sadness that both narrators feel?

 

"...leaned against it like a wishbone"

 

"Hands which did not tremble then
though seem to now"

 

In this part of the exam, you will be asked to write a comparison of two poems from the Power and Conflict cluster. For this question, you will have to write your own answer using the PEE format - Make a POINT, give an EXAMPLE, EXPLAIN with deeper detail.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Example paragraph: Both 'Poppies' and 'War Photographer' describe the sadness that is felt by people who were not directly involved in the conflict, but who are still affected by the loss of life. In 'Poppies', the mother explains how she "leaned against" the war memorial, and, in a similar way, the narrator of 'War Photographer' describes how their "hands tremble", which both show the physical effects sadness has on the narrators. The verbs used in both quotations describe how weak they both feel as the grief is exhausting. Both quotations create a sense of deep sadness by the end of the poems and we are left with the impression that they are not going to get over the loss that they have suffered.

Although the whole of this question is marked out of 30, for this answer the student will only be making one comparison point (AQA recommends that the student makes 3 comparison points throughout the essay) so we will mark this answer out of 10.
In order to gain full marks on this question the student should have written an extended paragraph that follows the PEE structure.
You should find a point, an example and an explanation which links both poems together
The paragraph should include quotations, language techniques and some evaluation.

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