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Flashcards in Power and Conflict Deck (7)
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Weather is real enemy
"merciless iced east winds that knive us" — personification

4x repetition "But nothing happens"
Regular form (stanza + line length, ABBA rhyme)

War changes men
"half-known faces" -> soldiers are mutilated OR soldiers are changed mentally (including burying party)
"all their eyes are ice" -> died from exposure (literal) OR became cold/emotionless

War changes nature (or our perception thereof)
"poignant misery of dawn" -> normally happiest time of day; warped into the worst time of day (when soldiers went over the top). Contradiction/juxtaposition
"invincible spring" -> ironic: spring offences were brutal

God is dead
"love of God seems dying" -> shocking in context


The Prelude

Before Volta (line 21):

Nature is God
"led by her" -> personified as a goddess
"voice of mountain echoes"

Beauty of nature
"sparkling light", "like a swan" (purity)

Pride and guilt
"an act of stealth and troubled pleasure"
"proud of his skill"

After Volta:
Power and darkness of nature:
"a huge peak, black and huge", "grim", "upreared its head"

Nature blocks him from God
"towered up between me and the stars"

Changed attitude — no longer proud
"trembling oars"; retreats.

Changed beliefs
"grave and serious mood", "darkness" => depression
"solitude", "blank desertion" => abandoned by God


The Charge of the Light Brigade

Setting: Battle of Balaclava in Crimean War (against Russia)

Power of enemy
"mouth of Hell" -> religious imagery -> god-like power
"thunder'd" -> elemental power

"Cannon" repetition, "flashed", "thunder'd" => power of enemy
Dactylic rhythm ("half a league") -> horses

100 deaths were shocking at the time
"valley of death" (Old Testament)
Return from "jaws of Death" is heroic

Noble death
"noble six hundred" => treated as a group, not individuals
"horse and hero fell"

Critical of leadership — controversial in context
"Some one had blunder'd"

Stanza 4 is longest -> struggle


My Last Duchess

Setting: 16th Century Renaissance Italy

Total control / psycopathy
"none puts by the curtain" -> wife only controlled in death
"I gave commands" -> used power to kill her
iambic pentameter -> symbol of control

Dramatic monologue
First person pronouns "My", "me!"
"I choose never to stoop"

No "skill in speech", but iambic pentameter is symbol of intelligence and eloquence

"too soon made glad"
"bough of cherries" (symbolise sex), but "white mule" = innocence

Obsession with love/marriage
Rhyming couplet
"Neptune taming a sea-horse" -> male dominance
"its earnest glance", "my object" -> objectification

Power of art
Duchess is preserved in a painting, "looking as if alive"
He has control over his collection


Storm on the Island

Preparations by community
"sink walls in rock", "squat"
Poem is one stanza -> compact and sturdy
"We are prepared." -> strong start

Power of nature
military imagery: "wind dives and strafes"
savagery: "spits like a tame cat turned savage
personification: leaves and branches "raise a tragic chorus"
violence: "pummels" shows intent + personification

Nature doesn't support life
"no trees", "wizened earth" is not arable (no hay)

Men are not actually hurt by nature c.f. Exposure "knives"
"dives and strafes" -> not lethal



Context: Shelley was a Romantic, disliked monarchies and oppression and held radical political views (French Revolution)

Arrogance of Pharaoh in life
"king of kings"
"Look on my works ... and despair!" -> irony ("nothing beside remains")
"sneer of cold command": aggressive language -> oppression/tyranny

Civilisation is transient/insignificant. Nature is more powerful
"shatter'd visage", "decay": even the most powerful cannot control nature and time
Form: iambic pentameter often disrupted -> human structures easily destroyed
Polyphonic/second-hand: distances reader from pharaoh

Power of art over civilisation/man
passions "survive" -> permanence
we only hear the pharaoh's words through his pedestal
"hand that mock'd them" ambiguous -> artist's hand ridiculing pharaoh? -> greater power



Context: Blake held radical social/political views (racial/social equality)

Powerful sense of despair
"mind-forged manacles": trapped/imprisoned. Own fault?
repetition of "marks" and "every": inescapable
"chartered street": movement/travel is controlled
"chartered Thames": even nature is restricted
restricted form: unbroken ABAB rhyme, regular rhythm, regular quatrain, regular line length

Many people affected
repetition of "every" / anaphora
both old and young (soldier; chimney-sweeper + new-born infant) -> no escape
"each chartered street" -> whole city

Corruption of the young
"youthful harlot" oxymoron (innocence vs squalor)
harlot curses and "blasts" new-born: innocence lost immediately
"chimney-sweeper": child labour -> exploitation

Corruption of marriage
"marriage hearse" oxymoron: all happiness destroyed
"harlot's curse" plagues her marriage and her clients' marriages, metaphorically and literally (venereal disease)
"plagues" are virulent, contagious => widespread decadence/debauchery?

Blame is on institutions / powerful people
"blood down palace walls" -> guilt of the rich -> socialism / French Revolution
"black'ning church": failure of religion to protect; corruption of church (secularism); ugliness of Industrial Revolution