AQA Conflict Cluster Poems | How Do I Approach Them?

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Poetry is often a daunting subject for many prospective GCSE students. Often the idea that there are multiple interpretations of a text can confuse those who are approaching a certain cluster of poems for the first time. If you are beginning to study, or are revising the popular conflict cluster of poems in the AQA Anthology Moon on the Tides, then this is a guide to help you focus on the kind of thoughts and questions that will apply to many of the poems in this cluster.

DIFFERENT TYPES OF CONFLICT

Firstly, what you should be aware of is that ‘conflict’ can be interpreted in many ways. The collection of poems in this cluster showcase the many types of conflict a person can encounter. So it is important to keep an open mind when trying to understand what types of conflict the poem might be addressing; not just simply ‘war’.

Different types of conflict you may encounter are: terrorism, civil war, political differences, occupations, tension between ethnic groups or personal struggles (either mental or physical) with an idea, person or even their conscience.

Some poems focus on a narrow point of view, possible the inner thoughts of a persona or they could shed light on the aftermath of conflict and its consequences.

CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING FOR THE POEMS

When studying the poems in this cluster, try to get into the habit of asking yourself these questions to help you ‘unlock’ the main ideas it is trying to convey:

  • What kind of conflict does this poem FOCUS on?
    Is it set during a conflict or is it the aftermath of the conflict? Who does the conflict AFFECT? Does it feature on a certain war? If so, what is it trying to highlight?
  • From what PERSPECTIVE is it written?
    This could be first (I), second (you) or third person (they). Is there a persona (written from a character’s point of view)? If so are they a participant, observer or a victim? How does this affect the reader? What time is it set in? Past, present or future? Has this been done for a reason?
  • How does the poem EXPLORE CONFLICT?
    What does the poem tell/ suggest about conflict? How does the poet do this with his language choices, structural features (layout/ organisation of text and ideas)?
  • WHY has the poet written this poem?
    What is the overall attitude/ feelings of the poet/ persona? What is the mood of the piece? How could the atmosphere reflect this?
  • How has the poet COMMUNICATED their ideas?
    Look at language choice, literary devices and their placement in the poem – could these help to communicate the poets central ideas?

Biography | John Agard

John Agard

Biography

  • Born 21st June 1949, Guyana
  • Afro-Guyanese poet, playwright, author and children’s writer
  • Wrote first poetry when he was in sixth-form
  • Left school in 1967 to pursue career as a librarian, sub-editor and feature writer in the newspaper Guyana Sunday Chronicle.
  • He wrote two books which were published while still in Guyana.
  • Left Guyana in 1977 and travelled to England, still lives there today with his long-term partner Grace Nichols (also renowned poet).
  • Worked for the Commonwealth Institute and the BBC in London.
  • Became poet-in-residence at the National Maritime Museum in 2008
  • His poem Half-Caste featured in the AQA English GCSE Anthology since 2002 and has been studied by pupils aged 14-16 across the country for their GCSE qualification.

Awards

Understanding the Poem Belfast Confetti – Ciaran Carson

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TITLE OF POEM: Ciaran Carson’s poem may sound a bit odd to those who where not around to witness ‘The Troubles’ in Ireland that ran from the 1960s to the 1980s. Carson lived through those troublesome times when there were clashes between Irish Nationalists (IRA) who basically wanted the British out of their land (Northern Ireland). These public riots often took place on huge streets and would go on for days. They involved the public against British armed forces and police. The name ‘Belfast Confetti’ was basically slang for the homemade hand grenades put together by the Irish opposition in Belfast that were filled with leftover pieces of nuts, bolts and other small metal items.

It was called ‘confetti’ because of the resemblance of shrapnel falling on people when a grenade explodes. It is ironic how a celebratory term is being used to describe what was essentially the complete opposite.

THE POEM:
Suddenly as the riot squad moved in, it was raining exclamation marks,
Nuts, bolts, nails, car keys. A fount of broken type.
And the explosion
Itself – an asterisk on the map. This hyphenated line, a burst of rapid fire …
I was trying to complete a sentence in my head, but it kept stuttering,
All the alleyways and side-streets blocked with stops and colons.

I know this labyrinth so well – Balaclava, Raglan, Inkerman, Odessa Street –
Why can’t I escape? Every move is punctuated.
Crimea Street. Dead end again.
A Saracen, Kremlin-2 mesh. Makrolon face-shields.
Walkie-talkies. What is
My name? Where am I coming from? Where am I
going? A fusillade of question-marks.

SPEAKER, TONE AND ATTITUDE

The speaker (person speaking to us from the poem) is someone caught in the sudden clash between the two factions. We could say it is Carson himself telling us how it felt to be caught up in the conflict on the streets of Belfast. The tone of the poem is indicative of someone who is bewildered. Notice the very short sentences for effect, and the multitude of question marks “fusillade” in this case showing someone not being sure of what to do or where to go. This reveals the shock and panic of a person trying to find a way out. In the first stanza we have a hasty list “nuts, bolts nails, car keys” which speeds up the pace of the poem, adding a feverish atmosphere. The objects themselves and the things that are the very ‘confetti’ that the poem is named after, but here they are raining down on the speaker’s head like bullets. 

These supposedly safe, household objects turn hostile, adding a certain horror to the situation. The objects are used for a strange Which probably aims to highlight how Ireland itself (home) to both sides, has become an alien environment to live in. Neighbourhoods which should symbolise calm and friendliness have now become a battleground. This is jarring to the viewer, as the things and places they once knew as ‘safe’ have taken on a sinister, deadly role. 

SEMANTIC FIELD/ WORD CHOICE OF POET

Carson uses a specific semantic field when describing the conflict on the street: punctuation. Punctuation marks come to symbolise the violence on the streets. It is important to also note that this is an extended metaphor as all the way through the poem punctuation is a metaphor for violence. In some instances it it the appearance of it that he uses to illustrate the destruction of a mine “the explosion itself, an asterisk on the map”. If we take the analogy of the asterisk as an explosion, we can read further into this – what do we use asterisks for? How can this apply to the explosion on the map? 

My students have remarked how an asterisks is often used to indicate an addendum (extra information that sheds more light onto an issue in a text), so they interpreted the asterisk as Carson’s way of hinting that there is far more going on in the conflict that meets the eye. The ‘troubles’ themselves have a complex history, and my pupils raised the issue that it could be possible that these rioters may have even forgotten why they are fighting, or what they are fighiting for.

IDENTITY

In any case, this could be supported by the fact that there is also a loss of identity emerging towards the end of stanza 2, where the speakers states “what is my name?” In the same way that punctuation makrs help us make sense of a written piece of work, here they seem to be causing havoc. There is a break down of communication (which causes most wars and conflicts), therefore we could argue that Carson is trying to convey how this may sometimes give way to a loss of ‘self’ and especially with our own conscience. 

War dehumanises people. Is Carson conveying this to us? Could the “Makronlon face-shields” be testament to this loss of hmanity and identity? What of the walkie-talkies? I think it is very telling, that the punctuation and imagery here is highlighting the  aggressive, brutal language of war. 

LANGUAGE

We have already established the importance of language, or rather the degeneration of it. The stuttering of a sentence in the head resembles a machine gun report. The alleyways are blocked by hostile stops and colons in the form of road blocks. Carson is using the only thing he knows to portray the nonsensical violence of what is happening around him: language. 

STRUCTURE: There is much to say about the way the pem structured. There is frequent use of caesura to indicate communication being cut off, either geographically or in the literal meaning of the word. This is reflected also in the semantic field. 

There are two stanzas, 7 lines each. Yet each line is different lengths indicating how the streets are cut off and are irregular lengths. The enjambment is also testament to this, where we get a sense of how the speaker is trying to run away, but isn’t able to. Paying attention to lines like ‘what is my name?’ is especially telling, as the phrase is literally cut in half, a bit like the rioters. The people of Ireland are divided and no longer feel like united. 

Context | ‘Of Mice and Men’ – Significance of the Title

“The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often awry” – ‘To a Mouse‘ by Robert Burns

A strange title for a book, don’t you think? At least that’s what I thought when I studied it many moons ago. But like all serious works of fiction, the title is often the key to unlocking the entire novel.

I am aware that most teachers often don’t have the time or pleasure of getting to explore the richness of Steinbeck‘s most famous (and only) novella with their classes. It’s always a race to get the novel finished and have as much time as possible left to allow students time to practice their writing skills. This is why I thought it would be useful to provide students with a more detailed back story to the novel that will hopefully help enrich their answers in the controlled assessment and exam.

  • WHY WAS IT WRITTEN? – The story is taken from then impact of the Great Depression on the farming population in Mid-West America and the subsequent ‘dust storms‘ that ultimately ruined the homes and livelihood of these people.  John Steinbeck also had strong personal views about the time and the why people were being treated by the government. He also had his own first-hand experiences of being a migrant worker himself during that period.
  • HOW WAS IT WRITTEN? – Steinbeck did this by borrowing key themes and ideas from the poem ‘To a Mouse’ written by Scottish poet Robert Burns. He weaves these crucial ideas into his characters, the scenery and even events to form a clever ‘echo’ of the poem, but against a completely different backdrop.

In order to understand the WHY, we must first analyse the HOW.  

HOW – ‘To a Mouse’ by Robert Burns

Burns original Standard English translation
Wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty
Wi bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee,
Wi’ murdering pattle.I’m truly sorry man’s dominion
Has broken Nature’s social union,
An’ justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth born companion
An’ fellow mortal!I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen icker in a thrave
‘S a sma’ request;
I’ll get a blessin wi’ the lave,
An’ never miss’t.Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
It’s silly wa’s the win’s are strewin!
An’ naething, now, to big a new ane,
O’ foggage green!
An’ bleak December’s win’s ensuin,
Baith snell an’ keen!Thou saw the fields laid bare an’ waste,
An’ weary winter comin fast,
An’ cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro’ thy cell.That wee bit heap o’ leaves an’ stibble,
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou’s turned out, for a’ thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the winter’s sleety dribble,
An’ cranreuch cauld.But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!Still thou are blest, compared wi’ me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But och! I backward cast my e’e,
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!
Small, crafty, cowering, timorous little beast,
O, what a panic is in your little breast!
You need not start away so hasty
With argumentative chatter!
I would be loath to run and chase you,
With murdering plough-staff.I’m truly sorry man’s dominion
Has broken Nature’s social union,
And justifies that ill opinion
Which makes you startle
At me, your poor, earth born companion
And fellow mortal!I doubt not, sometimes, but you may steal;
What then? Poor little beast, you must live!
An odd ear in twenty-four sheaves
Is a small request;
I will get a blessing with what is left,
And never miss it.Your small house, too, in ruin!
Its feeble walls the winds are scattering!
And nothing now, to build a new one,
Of coarse grass green!
And bleak December’s winds coming,
Both bitter and keen!You saw the fields laid bare and wasted,
And weary winter coming fast,
And cozy here, beneath the blast,
You thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel plough passed
Out through your cell.That small bit heap of leaves and stubble,
Has cost you many a weary nibble!
Now you are turned out, for all your trouble,
Without house or holding,
To endure the winter’s sleety dribble,
And hoar-frost cold.But little Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often awry,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!Still you are blessed, compared with me!
The present only touches you:
But oh! I backward cast my eye,
On prospects dreary!
And forward, though I cannot see,
I guess and fear!

SUMMARY OF POEM: A farmer stumbles upon the nest of a mouse one winters day in his barn. The nest has been ruined by the farmer and he begins to think how the animals will survive. He is sorry and puts himself in the place of the mouse imagining how he would feel if the same thing had happened to him and his family. He realises how much effort the mouse must have put into building it, and how all his efforts have been in vain. The farmer ends by saying that if they were both in the same situation, the mouse would be luckier, because it lacks two fundamental things; foresight (the ability to guess the future) and hindsight (the ability to reflect on the past). Humans on the other hand are cursed, because when a catastrophe happens we are able to look forward and see a bleak future for ourselves and be reminded of a past that was better. Both abilities cause depression and mental turmoil. The mouse is saved from both these things because of its limited memory.

WHY DID STEINBECK USE THE POEM AS A TITLE?

EXPLORING THE THEME OF ‘MICE’

  • MIGRANT WORKERS – Throughout the novella, Steinbeck explores how migrant workers dealt with being reduced to wandering gypsies, with no place to go and no prospect of a future. In a sense, they are just like the homeless mice in Burn’s poem. They are ousted from their natural habitat (the Mid-West) by a) the financial crisis of the Wall street Crash and b) the catastrophic ‘dust storms’ that swept through the area. This took away the top soil, making it impossible to farm anymore and turning the region into a desert. Families migrated in droves, taking what little they had to California, to make a new life for themselves. The route they took, was Route 66, which is now a famous highway in America.
  • LENNIE SMALL – Steinbeck uses a lot of animal imagery in his novel. In fact, Lennie is often compared to an animal, especially in the first chapter. Lennie may be physically strong and imposing, but mentally he is very simple; like the mouse in the poem. He has problems with remembering things (he can’t remember his Aunt Clara or what happened in Weed). Like the mouse; he functions on a very basic, limited level. He also likes to ‘pet’ soft things, especially mice. This shows how Lennie is more comfortable in their presence, as he identifies with them on some primal level.
  • GEORGE MILTON – Lennie and George are opposites, in every way (except perhaps their ‘dream’). Where Lennie is physically imposing, and not like a mouse at all, George is small, quick and highly intelligent. He makes all the decisions and keeps Lennie out of trouble. His physical appearance can therefore be compared to that of a mouse.

EXPLORING THE THEME OF ‘MEN’

  • MIGRANT WORKERS – Steinbeck and Dorothea Lange were two figures during the 1930’s that made an effort to document what was happening to people. Steinbeck was also a journalist and spent time travelling with migrant workers. In one of his articles, he glorified migrant workers, saying they were strong and dignified. He supported the idea that the people of the mid-west still retained some of their original ancestral pioneering traits, and that if anyone would pull through this time, it would be them. The novel contains some very strong, earthy characters and is full of men who have a certain skill-set tied to farming and the land itself.
  • GEORGE MILTON – We have said George is not a mouse physically, but he is definitely the man mentally. He is streetwise, witty and very sharp. He is able to think ahead and plan to his advantage certain things (he waits till morning to go to the ranch for his own benefit). In this sense, he is very much like the man in ‘To a Mouse’, as he is always moaning about how life would be if only this or that hadn’t happened. George represents the burden all men have to share for the gift of hind and foresight. At the end of the novel, he is burdened with something else entirely for the rest of his life.
  • LENNIE SMALL – Physically Lennie’s strength is unparalleled. The ranch workers remark about this, it also catches the eye of Curley (much to his disdain) and Curley’s wife (much to Lennie’s ill fortune). Yet even in the descriptions Lennie’s strength is animal-like. He is impulsive and needs orders from George in order to direct it. This could indicate Steinbeck’s views that no matter how manly a man might look, inside he more often than not lacks the advanced emotional and mental intelligence to use it to his advantage.
  • MEN ON THE RANCH – The book itself has a very male-dominant cast. This highlights the climate during that time and how it was very much ‘a man’s world’. Women feature very little, and when they do, they are often an extreme stereotype (Aunt Clara as a saint and Curley’s Wife as a promiscuous tart). However each man has in some way had his masculinity taken away from him (emasculated). Money is what makes a man, and America is a capitalist country. A man without money has neither social status or respect. Therefore the men on the ranch are all reduced to sub-human level, which causes resentment and extreme humiliation.

In 1929 America was plunged into a decade-long financial struggle. All of a sudden the ‘dream’ is over. This photo taken by Dorothea Lange shows what life was like for women on Route 66. Most faced extreme poverty and starvation.

  • CURLEY’S WIFE – Being the only woman on the ranch makes her a significant character. However, Steinbeck strips of her identity (she has no name) and turns her into a possession. She merely exists as Curley’s wife, and nothing else. Again, here we have links with the theme of ‘men’ and the fact that 1930’s America was pretty much a man’s world. This is in stark contrast to the decade before, the roaring twenties, when women were experiencing freedom on a level not seen before.

Biography | Alison Fell

Scottish poet Alison Fell, © Ivan Coleman

Biography

  • Born in Dumfries, 1944
  • Scottish poet and novelist
  • Graduated from Edinburgh Art University
  • Wrote for Scotland Magazine
  • Moved to London in 1970, founded Women’s Street Theatre Group
  • In 1998 she held the School of English and American Studies Writing Fellowship at the University of East Anglia.
  • In 2003 her play Mapping the Edge was adapted to BBC Radio 3.

Works

  • 2005 Lightyear, photographs by Ivan Coleman, Smokestack Books
  • 2003 Tricks of the Light, Doubleday
  • 1999 The Mistress of Lilliput, Doubleday
  • 1997 Dreams, Like Heretics: New and Selected Poems, Serpent’s Tail
  • 1995 Shouting It Out: Stories from Contemporary Scotland, contributor, Hodder & Stoughton Educational
  • 1994 The Pillow Boy of the Lady Onogoro, Serpent’s Tail
  • 1992 Serious Hysterics, Serpent’s Tail
  • 1991 Mer de Glace, Methuen
  • 1990 The Seven Cardinal Virtues, editor, Serpent’s Tail
  • 1988 The Seven Deadly Sins, editor, Serpent’s Tail
  • 1988 The Crystal Owl, Methuen
  • 1987 The Bad Box, Virago
  • 1984 Kisses for Mayakovsky, Virago
  • 1984 Every Move You Make, Virago
  • 1981 The Grey Dancer, Collins
  • 1980 Smile, Smile, Smile, Smile, contributor, Sheba
  • 1979 Hard Feelings, editor and illustrator, Women’s Press

Awards

  • 1991 Boardman Tasker Memorial Prize, Mer de Glace, joint winner
  • 1984 Alice Hunt Bartlett Award, Kisses for Mayakovsky
  • 2002-3 Royal Literary Fund Fellowship

21st Century Teaching… or is it?

 

21st Century Teaching.

 

Just found this on Pinterest and thought it represented perfectly the tall expectations teachers are under as educators of future generations. Looking at some of the suggestions, I think most are practical and useful points all teachers should take on. We should all utilise technology on some level in order to teach and communicate better with our students. Thinking skills should always be developed, regardless of subject, as today we aim to give our children transferable skills rather than certain skill sets for certain subjects.

As teachers or pupils, which suggestions do you think are spot on, and which have proven to be wishful thinking? I know for a fact that letting students use mobile phones in lessons doesn’t always yield good results! However, in using text messaging activities while studying spoken language can really boost the understanding of a class.

What do you think? Should some things be scrapped, or do you have alternative suggestions as to what should go on in a classroom?

In other words, if you have classroom tales of things going brilliantly and things that have gone horribly wrong, then I want to know!

GCSE Poetry Revision | ‘August 6, 1945’ by Alison Fell

‘What have we done?’ – written by the co-pilot of the Enola Gay in his diary, as he witnessed the mushroom cloud of the atomic bomb spreading over Hiroshima.

August 6, 1945

In the Enola Gay
five minutes before impact
he whistles a dry tune

Later he will say
that the whole blooming sky
went up like an apricot ice.
Later he will laugh and tremble
at such a surrender, for the eye
of his belly saw Marilyn’s skirts
fly over her head for ever

On the river bank,
bees drizzle over
hot white rhododendrons

Later she will walk
the dust, a scarlet girl
with her whole stripped skin
at her heel, stuck like an old
shoe sole or mermaid’s tail

Later she will lie down
in the flecked black ash
where the people are become
as lizards or salamanders
and, blinded, she will complain
Mother you are late. So late

Later in dreams he will look
down shrieking and see

ladybirds
ladybirds

By Alison Fell

CONTEXT: The title of the poem indicates the date America dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. This unprecedented move by America is said by some to have ended WW2, however the poem itself explores the guilty conscience of those involved in the bombings and refers throughout to time passing, as each stanza begins with the word ‘later’. The poem is written from a retrospective point of view, yet begins moments before the bomb is dropped, when the world was still oblivious to the idea of atomic warfare.

‘Enola Gay’ is the name of the  Boeing B-29 Superfortress plane carrying the atomic bomb ‘Little Boy‘, and was named by pilot Colonel Paul Tibbets after his mother. The bomb was uranium-based and was untested during the Manhattan Project, unlike the second bomb (‘Fat Man‘) that was plutonium-based, and was dropped on Nagasaki three days after the Hiroshima bombing.

In the poem, Fell explores two aspects of the bombing; the aerial view of the pilots as they watched the event from the plane and their subsequent feelings of detachment, and also the suffering of the victims on the ground from the radioactive fallout.

Fell uses vivid imagery to show the three deadly stages of the bombing. The first is the ‘blast’ which produced the mushroom cloud. This is curiously compared to the iconic image of Marilyn Monroe in her white dress as it gets ‘blasted’ by the air from the subway grating.

The second stage is the fire storm and the  ‘black rain’ that occurred after the blast. The fire storm is shown through the ‘the scarlet girl’, whose skin has been stripped off from the heat of the bomb. The black rain is compared to bees ‘raining’ over white flowers, which symbolises the white-hot heat of the fire as it burns the people at ground-zero.

The third stage is the radioactive fallout, which is again shown through the girl whose body is being consumed by the cancerous radiation as she lies down in defeat. Other victims are also hinted at, and compared to ‘lizards’ and ‘salamanders’, who are well-known for shedding their skin. In ancient times salamanders were believed to be immune to fire, but this is false. Fell uses this image in an ironic way, as none of the victims survived the blast. In fact, photos taken by American pilots before and after the attack show a Hiroshima that was quite literally ‘wiped off’ the map.

Photos of Hiroshima taken before and after the bombing.

Photos of Hiroshima taken before and after the bombing.

The final stanza refers to a popular nursery rhyme called ‘Ladybird, Ladybird, fly away home‘. The rhyme contains the lines:  ‘your house is on fire and your children are gone’, which links with Hiroshima being on fire and how all the children are dead or gone. The rhyme also refers to a girl called Ann, who survives by hiding under a baking pan. This could be linked to the girl in the poem whose skin has fallen off and is barely alive.

TONE/ MOOD: The poem is written in a conversational tone with lines like ‘the whole blooming sky’ where the word ‘blooming’ could be to swear or curse in colloquial language (slang). There is as sense of irony throughout the poem, as Fell uses inappropriate imagery to compare to the horrors of war. The mushroom cloud resembles Marilyn Monroe’s skirts and the fire from the bomb is compared to ‘apricot ice’. The poet is constantly challenging our view of the events with such images and this gives the poem a tone of absurdity. The realities of war are caricatured, or made smaller, which mirrors how mankind cannot cope with the scale of the atrocity and seeks to ‘shrink’ the consequences down to a manageable size. In the last stanza, this is represented by how the burning humans take on the shape of ladybirds in the dreams of the pilot.

RHYME/ RHYTHM: The poem has no regular rhyme or rhythm. This irregularity matches the feeling of confusion created in the poem.

KEY IMAGERY/ IDEAS:
* The ‘Enola Gay‘ – There is a constant reference to female figures. The plane ‘Enola Gay’ is named after the pilot’s mother and carries not only her offspring (the pilot himself) but also the bomb ‘Little Boy’, the brain-child of America. The plane symbolises America itself, which as a country is referred to as ‘the motherland’. She leads her brave sons to make history and conquer Japan. The dropping of the bomb signifies her ‘giving birth’ to a new and terrible age of warfare, where the ‘sons’ of one country annihilate the ‘sons’ of another.

Marilyn Monroe – The burst of the bomb is compared to the iconic figure of Marilyn Monroe with her flying skirts. This is sexually charged imagery, where motherland America is seen to stand astride Japan in a victory pose that is both a mockery and a taunt. It is a provocative pose, and the pilot gets aroused by the explosion the same way he would if looking at this picture of the sex icon. It promotes a boosted sense of virility for America as the ‘doer’ and ‘winner’; which is in total odds with Japan, whose population suffered from years of radiation exposure which caused sterility.

We could also argue that Monroe’s skirts that ‘fly over her head forever’, could signify a turning point for America and the world, where things will never be the same again. It also paints the image of a woman forever violated; of a woman who is perhaps so ashamed of what has happened, that she is ‘hiding’ her face from the very event she has given birth to.

the ‘Scarlet girl’ – The word ‘scarlet’ suggests a girl who is perhaps sexually promiscuous, which links to the image of Marilyn Monroe and sexual violation. Her skin hangs off her body in the same way that Monroe shows her skin in the provocative photo. The plane can also be connected to this idea as the name ‘Enola Gay’ is written over its body like a tattoo.

* Lizards/ Salamanders – The victims are compared to lizards and salamanders which is not only belittling, but also draws further ties with the shedding of skin, which these creatures are known to do. Salamanders were once believed to be immune to fire, however this is not true. It is ironic that Fell should use this imagery, as the victims had no protection against the catastrophe that befell them.

*Colours – These are used frequently in the poem. The most common are black, red, orange and white; colours that are associated with death, danger, surrender and war. The white is mentioned when Monroe’s skirts ‘surrender’ to the bombing; the red to the girl whose skin strips away to reveal raw muscle underneath (danger, blood, desire); the black to the ash that represents death shrouding the city and the orange to the ‘apricot ice’  fire storm that rages after the mushroom cloud.