Category Archives: Power and Conflict Poetry

Bayonet Charge Revision Video

With your anthology, or a copy of Bayonet Charge to hand, have a look at this video. It’s clearer on full screen

If you find it useful, we can easily make more on the other poems. Give us your feedback!

Mr Bunker

Comparing Poems: Power and Conflict

For your English Literature exam, you will be asked to write a comparative essay on the poems from the AQA Anthology. This question is worth 30 marks, so should take you around 40 minutes.

You will always be given one poem from the anthology as a starting point and this poem will be printed in the exam paper. It’s then up to you to choose a poem to compare the printed one with.  Remember, a list of the poems will be printed in the anthology, so use this list to decide which poem to select.


It is absolutely crucial that you have a good knowledge of all 15 poems in the anthology and how they link. There are lots and lots of videos on youtube analysing each poem, as well as other websites which have detailed analyses of the poems. Remember, lots of these poems are very famous and have been discussed for years.

It’s also really important to remember that you have to be in a position to discuss poems from memory. This doesn’t mean you need to memorise all 15 poems, but knowing parts of them off by heart is absolutely vital. For instance, have a look at the list below:

  • A shattered visage lies
  • Sneer of cold command
  • Look on my works ye mighty and despair
  • colossal wreck
  • the lone and level sands stretch far away.

These are all quotes from Ozymandias. If you could remember these five, you would probably be able to write a pretty good essay about this poem, and compare it to other poems confidently.

What 5 lines could you memorise from My Last Duchess? What about London? Remains? War Photographer?

Developing Comparisons

Once you have a good knowledge of each poem, you need to start practising comparing them. You can use this document (poetry-pc-compare-themes) as a guide to which poems link and how.

Once you have selected two poems that you think go together, devise a question to help focus your ideas. The question should take this form.

Compare how the writers of …………… and  ……………. present ideas about …………..

Then you can use this planning document to plan how exactly these poems compare. You can see an example below where I have planned an essay on how the authors of Remains and War Photographer present ideas about conflict.

When comparing poems, you should think about the poet’s choices of language, structure and form. The questions below should help guide your thinking:

  • Who is the ‘voice’ of each poem? Are they similar? Different?
  • What mood / atmosphere does the poet create? How do they compare?
  • Do the poets convey any similar ideas? Do they do this using different techniques?
  • How do language choices contribute to the mood or tone of the poems? Does this mood change at any point?
  • Do the poets use any poetic techniques? Do they use similar techniques or different ones?
  • How are the poems structured? How does this support their messages?
  • Are there any clear similarities in structure or form?

Useful Links and Resources



War Photographer

The poem:


The poem is written by Carol Ann Duffy (1955- present). Her poems often explore real events, including dramatizing events from childhood and adolescence. She states “I like to use simple words, but in a complicated way”.

In the 1970s Carol Ann Duffy was friendly with Don McCullin, a famous photographer whose photographs of war were widely published.

The poem explores the dual role of being a War Photographer, having to take pictures of terrible suffering without being able to help. The gap between these sufferings and those viewing the poems is explored through the perspective of a photographer.


The poem explores the war photographer’s conflict when he develops his photographs and how the memories of war haunt him. His personal experiences contrast with the general apathy of the British public, in their comparatively safe environment.

Summary page:



Key Themes: 

  • Horrors of war
  • Indifference to suffering
  • Personal pain and guilt
  • Motif of religion

Useful Links: