In what ways do the poems ‘Flag’, ‘Out of the Blue’ and ‘Mametz Wood’ convey the emotions and images of conflict?
‘Flag’ considers the value of patriotism as symbolized by the flag, and explores ideas of national identity, with a running metaphor comparing to a flag. It considers how the flag is used and exploited, this creates sympathy, and the refrain explains subtly that the flag is ‘just a piece of cloth’. In each of the first four stanzas a question and answer is given which both asserts and challenges the power and value of the flag telling the reader, it can control countries; it can motivate men; it can change the minds of cowards; it can live forever. This shows a high level of power and in a way shows hidden personification as its capabilities (excluding the final point) are of some intelligence that would only seem human. In the final stanza the person asks how he can possess such a powerful item, and the answer to the earlier questions is revealed, with having possession of the flag can have terrible consequences. He addresses the reader directly: ‘the blood you bleed’. He follows this in the final stanza, by revealing what the ‘piece of cloth’ is, but also revealing the consequences of taking the flag, losing your independence, the freedom to make your own decisions and, it is implied, your morality. This only makes the reader more curious.
‘Out of the Blue’ shows how, in the modern world, conflict isn’t confined to a battlefield, and terrorism intrudes on everyone’s life, as throughout it shows imagery of an anonymous account. The poem establishes the speaker’s ‘master of the universe’ character, a financier looking down from his office, but he is trapped in the burning building, giving of feelings of despair and horror. Armitage imagines a character from TV footage on 9/11, and invites the reader, who is already a witness to this event, to also see it from the personal point of view of a victim; this only draws more sorrow along with the...
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