YEAR 11 ENGLISH – War Poetry
Ploughing the waste, we turn up from the clay
The bones of warriors in some old affray
Fallen: but, what they fought for in their day,
Or who the victors were, now none can say.
Wilfred Gibson: The Victors
Techniques in Poetry:
Poetry is difficult because often its language is indirect. But so is experience – what
we think, feel, and do. There are many different ways to explore and enjoy poetry.
Don‟t look for a right or wrong answer. Instead, reflect that there are as many
different interpretations of poetry as there are readers in the world. Poetic techniques
are not exhaustive, nor are they prescriptive. There are no set minimums or
maximums, and very few rules. Poets like to „play‟ with the sound of language,
challenge the reader, and offer complex emotional insight into the world around them.
First Approaches:
Read the poem aloud. Identify the speaker and the situation. Read the sentences
literally. Use your prose reading skills to clarify what the poem is about. Consider
each line separately, noting unusual words and phrases. Look up words you are
unsure of and work through any associations you may not be familiar with. Pay
attention to changes in the form of the poem that might signal a shift in point of view.
Study the structure of the poem, including its rhyme and rhythm (if any). Re-read the
poem slowly, thinking about what message and emotion it communicates to you.
Words to describe what a poem is doing in relation to ideas:
Affirms, condones, creates, contradicts, confirms, considers, contrasts, conveys,
condemns, challenges, concludes, describes, depicts, declares, determines,
examines, explores, evokes, exposes, exemplifies, elicits, endorses, highlights,
illustrates, illuminates, implies, intensifies, observes, presents, portrays, questions,
represents, reiterates, reflects, reveals, reinforces, subverts, shows, suggests,
transforms, undermines

Poetic Techniques
Repetition (Anaphora)

Words to describe how a poem affects the reader:
moves, intrigues, excites, provokes, challenges, disappoints, betrays, helps,
prepares, vindicates, engages, confronts, amuses, interests, puzzles, shocks,
frustrates, stirs, alienates, disturbs, rewards, angers, lures, captivates, comforts,
admonishes, warns, unsettles, positions, undermines, primes, manipulates,

Rosie Egan, Liana Skrzypczak, Alison Robertson & Athena Taylor, Wilderness School


Your Task: After reading a selection of poems, choose one of the essay
questions below, referring to at least 6 poems:
1. In what ways have the poets studied used various techniques to engage
and shock the reader?
2. Discuss the techniques poets have used to portray war.
3. In what ways have poets presented contrasting views of war?
4. How have the poets studied conveyed their intended message about war?
Length: 800 words
Questions to consider:
1. Have I given evidence to support all my points? Do I use a variety of examples for my different points, so that I
do not repeat myself? Have I integrated any quotations smoothly into my sentences?
2. Have I used connectives such as similarly, in contrast, moreover, furthermore, however etc. to help my
argument flow and draw connections and contrasts between my points and examples?
3. Is everything I write relevant to answering the question? Have I really focused on answering the question and
avoided talking about my own experiences or opinions about the issues raised in the poems?
4. Have I written formally, without using contractions to shorten words, or any slang expressions, unless I am
quoting from a poem? Is my style informative and thoughtful, rather than personal, chatty and repetitive?
5. Finally, how fluent and accurate is my writing? Consider your spelling, sentence structure, use of apostrophes
and other punctuation etc. All of these need to be accurate and it is up to YOU to ensure this!

Rosie Egan, Liana Skrzypczak, Alison Robertson & Athena Taylor, Wilderness School

Essay Grid- How to write a perfect poetry paragraph integrating 2 poems and using quotations
Paragraph Structure

Ideas, techniques & effects

Topic sentence
mentioning both poets
and poetms and points of

World War One poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen use
similar techniques of sarcasm, contrast and imagery to portray the
senseless misery of war in Does it Matter? and Dulce et Decorum

Brief overview of the
poems themes linking to
the overall question.

Each poem examines the consequence of fighting along the
Western Front, Owen‟s poem centreing around a man “guttering,
choking, drowning” while Sassoon concerns himself primarily with
the fate of those injured in battle.

First point, with examples
from both poems to back
up your points.

Sarcasm features heavily in both poems, with Sassoon‟s repetitive
use of disingenuously upbeat rhetorical questions confronting the
reader with the irrational brutality of war: “does it matter? – losing
your legs?/ - losing your sight? – those dreams from the pit?”
Similarly, Owen‟s ironic allusion to “the old Lie” reinforces the
destructiveness of patriotic propaganda, while his apostrophic and
sarcastic reference to his “friend” belies the harshness of his tone.

Two or three techniques,
with examples from each
and well-integrated
evidence that supports
your answer to the

Concluding sentence
linking back to the initial

Essay Style
Use key words from the question
Mentioning the poet and poems
by name.
Identify techniques to be
Identify message of war being
Supplement braoder techniques
with secondary poetic analysis
Use formal language
Use linking words for comparing
and contrasting

Both poems employ stark contrast to emphasise the misery of war.
Use words to show what the poet
Sassoon‟s jolly, anapestic trimeter is at odds with his dark subject
is doing, such as „confronts‟
matter, as is Owen‟s juxtaposition of “children ardent for some
desperate glory” and soldiers marching “like beggars under
Refer to specific examples from
the poems to support your point.
Powerful imagery further illustrates the devastating effects of war,
with Sassoon depicting the heartfelt sorrow of “the blind… turning
[their] face to the light” and Owen preferring a more
confrontational, alliterative image of “white eyes writhing… like a
devil’s sick of sin.”


Although the tone and setting of each poem is significantly
different, both poems portray the futility and brutality of war
through the techniques of sarcasm, contrast and imagery.

Rosie Egan, Liana Skrzypczak, Alison Robertson & Athena Taylor, Wilderness School

Knowledge and Understanding
Ideas, values and beliefs explored in the text. Evident by:
 Exploring and reflecting on your personal understanding of the poems and the significant human experiences
represented in them.
Ways in which the creators and readers of text use language techniques and conventions to make meaning.
Evident by:
 Analysing your poems and evaluating their content and the appeal of the individual author‟s literary style.
 Investigating the use and effect of extended metaphor, metonymy, anaphora, hyperbole, imagery and
symbolism in your chosen poems.
Ways in which texts are composed for a range of audiences and purposes. Evident by:
 Identifying the context and meaning of the studied poems, the reasons behind their creation, and the effect of
their form and style on the reader.
Of the connections between personal experiences, ideas, values and beliefs, and those explored in a text.
Evident by:
 Interpreting, analysing and evaluating how different perspectives of issue, event, situation, individuals or groups
are constructed to serve specific purposes in poetry.
 Creating imaginative, informative and persuasive texts that present a point of view and advance or illustrate
an argument.
Of the ways in which language techniques are used to influence opinions and decisions in a range of social
contexts. Evident by:
 Analysing how various structural, figurative and linguistive techniques are used to create meaning in poetry.
 Exploring the link between message, language, and reader interpretation.
 Identifying and describing the techniques present in your chosen poems and the ways in which these position
us to engage with the poem‟s themes.
Accuracy, clarity and fluency of expression
 Correct spelling, punctuation and grammar
 Use of linking words to compare, contrast and reflect on the similarities and differences of your chosen poetry
Use of an appropriate style and structure for the audience and purpose when composing texts
 Appropriate paragraph structure, formal language, analytical vocabulary and correct spelling, punctuation and

Rosie Egan, Liana Skrzypczak, Alison Robertson & Athena Taylor, Wilderness School