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John Agard - Flag: GCSE AQA Conflict Cluster Poem Analysis

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John Agard's flag analysed.

Analysis is best suited for the GCSE AQA specification. This poem fits into the conflict cluster.

Includes detailed annotations of every stanza and includes the poem.

This is a useful revision tool of classroom presentation.

Published in: Education
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John Agard - Flag: GCSE AQA Conflict Cluster Poem Analysis

  1. 1. GCSE POETRY AQA conflict cluster Full analysis, explanation and details from the poems form the FLAGJohn Agard
  2. 2. Flag What’s that fluttering in a breeze? It’s just a piece of cloth that brings a nation to its knees. What’s that unfurling from a pole? It’s just a piece of cloth that makes the guts of men grow bold. What’s that rising over a tent? It’s just a piece of cloth that dares the coward to relent. What’s that flying across a field? It’s just a piece of cloth that will outlive the blood you bleed. How can I possess such a cloth? Just ask for a flag, my friend. Then blind your conscience to the end. John Agard
  3. 3. STANZA 1 What’s that fluttering in a breeze? It’s just a piece of cloth that brings a nation to its knees. “It’s just a piece of cloth” repeated in every stanza to emphasise the importance of the statement, and to reinforce the dismissal of this ‘flag’ to the reader, and to show that it not important, that it does no good.
  4. 4. STANZA 1 What’s that fluttering in a breeze? It’s just a piece of cloth that brings a nation to its knees. “fluttering” is an onomatopoeia to inspire creative and vivid imagery within the reader. It makes the poem more engaging and appeals to the readers’ senses, seeming almost audial, touchable, hearable and visible when read.
  5. 5. STANZA 1 What’s that fluttering in a breeze? It’s just a piece of cloth that brings a nation to its knees. “Breeze” is smooth and gentle, which makes it very pleasant to read and makes the reader feel calm, tranquil and relaxed, which is ironic because this poem presents the flag as a violent symbol that provokes violent behavior.
  6. 6. STANZA 1 What’s that fluttering in a breeze? It’s just a piece of cloth that brings a nation to its knees. “nation to it’s knees” surrounds pain and surrender that makes the audience feel angry towards the actions of this ‘piece of cloth’. Knees could connote surrender, imagery of praying. Being on your knees is personifying the flag, and if someone is on their knees they are lower than you, which means that they have less power (symbolically), which makes the flag sound degrading.
  7. 7. STANZA 1 What’s that fluttering in a breeze? It’s just a piece of cloth that brings a nation to its knees. Enjambment is used to cement the join between the dismissive nature of the 2nd line and the negative final line which emphasises the negative attributed of the flag, and makes it not one or the other, but it makes the flag seem both unnecessary and negative at the same time. This applies to every stanza.
  8. 8. STANZA 1 What’s that fluttering in a breeze? It’s just a piece of cloth that brings a nation to its knees. Structure of the lines looks like a flag because most flags have three stripes to them. Agard could have used this structure because it looks like the three stripes to the flag, and on of the old flags with the triangle out of the middle to represent the age of the flag and how outdated they are in our modern world.
  9. 9. STANZA 2 What’s that unfurling from a pole? It’s just a piece of cloth that makes the guts of men grow bold. Question and answer rhythm of the poem makes it seem as if somebody naive, such as a child, is asking the question, and an adult with knowledge is answering which implies to the reader that if they still think that the flag is good or if they don’t understand the implications of the ‘flag’ then they are childish or naive.
  10. 10. STANZA 2 What’s that unfurling from a pole? It’s just a piece of cloth that makes the guts of men grow bold. Visceral imagery is used in the poem to make the flag appear to the audience as if it physically causes injury to people.
  11. 11. STANZA 2 What’s that unfurling from a pole? It’s just a piece of cloth that makes the guts of men grow bold. “men grow bold” connotes war and it emphasises the effects of these flags and by using the visceral imagery, he makes it seem that the “guts of men” may “grow bold” however, there will be harsh consequences, which obviously outweigh the positives of war.
  12. 12. STANZA 3 What’s that rising over a tent? It’s just a piece of cloth that dares the coward to relent. “rising” is quite a humble word which emphasises the point that the flag creates pride in war, and how we respect just a piece of cloth.
  13. 13. STANZA 3 What’s that rising over a tent? It’s just a piece of cloth that dares the coward to relent. “tent” could relate to a war tent outside a battlefield which relates the flag even more to the disasters of the war, and could act as a catalyst or the starting factor to all wars.
  14. 14. STANZA 3 What’s that rising over a tent? It’s just a piece of cloth that dares the coward to relent. “dares” is quite a childish word, which does connote danger as well. It could be stating that fighting just because of a flag is childish, immature and dangerous.
  15. 15. STANZA 3 What’s that rising over a tent? It’s just a piece of cloth that dares the coward to relent. “coward to relent” emphasises the effects of the flag, making the opposing ‘flag’ weaker and to make it surrender.
  16. 16. STANZA 4 What’s that flying across a field? It’s just a piece of cloth that will outlive the blood you bleed. “flying” is a very large scale word that is often associated with dreams and amazement and of course powerful jets and planes which can quickly turn into a disaster when they crash.
  17. 17. STANZA 4 What’s that flying across a field? It’s just a piece of cloth that will outlive the blood you bleed. “outlive” could mean that the flag will live forever and it will survive forever, unlike everything living, like the people fighting in the war who will die eventually anyway, so he is suggesting that it is a shame that people think that that they should “bleed” just to keep the flag.
  18. 18. STANZA 4 What’s that flying across a field? It’s just a piece of cloth that will outlive the blood you bleed. the ‘b’s in “blood you bleed” are plosives and sound harsh and violent when read aloud. There is also alliteration here that is made to make this part stand out which also makes the flag seem more violent.
  19. 19. STANZA 4 What’s that flying across a field? It’s just a piece of cloth that will outlive the blood you bleed. Agard uses 2nd person when he says “you”, which makes the reader feel responsible for any of the actions in the poem, and it makes the reader feel as if they should do something about it and change it.
  20. 20. STANZA 5 How can I possess such a cloth? Just ask for a flag, my friend. Then blind your conscience to the end. All lines are ended and there is no enjambment, which makes the 2nd line feel abrupt and it brings an end to this question and answer scheme - all of his questions have been answered.
  21. 21. STANZA 5 How can I possess such a cloth? Just ask for a flag, my friend. Then blind your conscience to the end. “possess” sounds as if they still want the flag even though they know all of the disasters that it brings, the reader may presume that he is obsessed with the power that this flag is portrayed to have.
  22. 22. STANZA 5 How can I possess such a cloth? Just ask for a flag, my friend. Then blind your conscience to the end. when you “blind your conscience” you have no care for others or your responsibilities and their consequences and Agard has presented this well to tie in with war, because you are essentially killing people, and that can’t agree with your conscience. John Agard questions if it is the right thing to do.
  23. 23. STANZA 5 How can I possess such a cloth? Just ask for a flag, my friend. Then blind your conscience to the end. “The end” could imply that it is until you die and this could be that you die in war or that it is related to that the flag will “outlive the blood you bleed”. It could also express the effects of war, such as shell shock and the memories of their blinded conscience until the day they die.
  24. 24. John Agard FLAG

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